Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bartok, Toumani Diabate, Amir Koushkani, Sal Ferreras, Francois Houle: Playlist for The Open Window for June 22, 2009

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Co-op Radio) Sundays at 10 am and Mondays at 6:30 am

Safa: Chahar Mezrab from Alight (Songlines)

This 2002 recording is the only one ever made by this wonderful group consisting of Amir Koushkani, the Iranian-Canadian player of the stringed instruments the tar and the setar, Vancouver percussionist Sal Ferreras and Vancouver classical/jazz/other clarinetist Francois Houle.

I played this for the people of Iran.

Francois Houle is a brilliant musician who has made a career of bringing classical training and sound to free jazz and to world music. It is really a revelation to hear classical clarinet tone quality applied to other kinds of music-- in this CD it lifts everything to a new realm of openness and clarity. Combine that with the performance of Amir Koushkani which "exudes a passionate air that reaches deeply into our souls. His voice speaks a musical language of longing, ecstasy and joy." (Sal Ferreras from the CD notes.)

And Sal Ferreras is world music percussion itself.

Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra; Seiji Ozawa and the Chicago Symphony from Bartok Concerto for Orchestra and Kodaly Dances of Galanta (Angel)

No photo of the album because it is so entirely out of print. This is one of the most colorful and dramatic orchestral pieces anywhere: interesting combinations of instruments combined with harmonies and melodies from the folk life of Bartok's native Hungary create one of Bartok's most "accessible" works. It was written in the U.S. in 1943 shortly before Bartok's death.

Toumani Diabate: El Nabiyouna and Canatelowes from The Mande Variations (Nonesuch)

More sophisticated harp from the desert. See previous post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vivaldi, Toumani Diabate, Rachmaninoff: Playlist for The Open Window for June 15, 2009

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Co-op Radio) Sundays at 10 am and Mondays at 6:30 am

Toumani Diabate: Elyne Road, Ali Farka Toure, Ismael Drame, Cantalowes, from The Mande Variations (Nonesuch)

Toumani Diabate has picked up influences from the music of other countries without making his music sound more like pop or electronica or a world music mashup. It's purely a solo kora CD, and lovely. It's new.

"The Mande Variations breaks new ground for the kora in many ways, establishing this West African harp as one of the world's great solo instruments. It reflects Toumani's extraordinary personal and musical journey over the past two decades, taking on ideas and approaches from styles as diverse as western pop, Indian classical, flamenco, and blues, but all ultimately remaining firmly rooted in the Malian griot music that is his heritage." -- from the CD notes

Vivaldi, Summer, from the Four Seasons; the English Chamber Orchestra, Nigel Kennedy conductor and solo violinist (EMI)

Well, it's almost summer. Vivaldi's summer has both calm and st

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Andante from Sonata for Violoncello Op.19, Serenade in B-flat minor Op.3-5, and Romance in F minor O
p.10-6; Arkady Volodos, piano, from Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3 and Solo Piano Works (Sony)

Some nice short solo piano pieces, skirting around the entirely other planet of the Concerto #3 which is also on this CD-- some other time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Erik Friedlander, Marjan Mozetich, Grandpa Elliott, Playing for Change: Playlist for The Open Window, June 1, 2009

The Open Window Airs at 6:30 am Mondays and 10am Sundays at (Kootenay Cooperative Radio)

Erik Friedlander: King Rig, Dream Song, Airstream Envy, Rushmore, and Valley of Fire from Block Ice and Propane: Compositions and Improvisations for Solo Cello (Skipstone)

I have played this CD a few times on my music shows and it always elicits someone calling and saying "Who was that?" Cellist Erik Friedlander has played with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Courtney Love and he has also recorded 9 CDs as a leader. He's best known as an avant-garde jazz etc. player, but this one is a stunning solo synthesis of various kinds of American roots music, whatever that means, played with friendly virtuosity on bowed and plucked cello plus a bit of electronics occasionally. Just a few notes in to the CD you'll know that this is the real thing and you will have to buy it.

Marjan Mozetich: Affairs of the Heart: Concerto for Violin and Strings Orchestra per
formed by Juliette Kang, violin, with Mario Bernardi and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra from Affairs of the Heart (CBC)

Bob Olsen, who
knows a lot more about classical music than I, hosts Classical Corner on Kootenay Co-op Radio and he loaned me this CD after I heard it on his show. Marjan Mozetich is a Canadian composer who started out as a committed creator and teacher of very avant-garde music. He then underwent a serious about-face in the 1970s, when he started writing music that is part post-modernism (Glass, Reich, Reilly) and part 19th-century Romanticism. It's a fascinating combination. He made this change, he is quoted in the CD notes as saying, because "that world had become sterile: composers were supposed to create a hypothesis and then realize it musically, like a research paper. I thought it was ridiculous."

Playing for Change: Stand by Me, from Songs Around the World (Hear Music)

Head for the internet and look up Playing for Change and watch
a great series of music videos performed by dozens of people from around the world, playing their own parts in their own country, mostly outdoors, then edited and united by technology and the impulse to unite us all. Stand by Me is opened by two amazing street singers, Roger Ridley and Grandpa Elliott, but we also see/hear musicians and singers from Holland, South Africa, Congo, Spain, Russia, France, Venezuela, and Italy.