Rachel Podger’s CD “Guardian Angel” Makes Waves

Rachel Podger’s SACD “Guardian Angel” (with music by Bach, Matteis, Tartini, Pisendel and Biber) from Channel Classics (CCSSA35513) is causing something of a stir. The music on this recording demonstrates how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria and England responded to the challenges of writing for violin senza basso. Music for violin senza basso had a distinguished history before Bach and was widely cultivated by his contemporaries. Violinistic virtuosity was extraordinarily experimental in the late seventeenth century, as the disc reminds us.


In November, Warner Classics is marking the Wagner and Verdi bicentenaries with a spectacular programme of excerpts from the Ring and a full live recording of the Messa da Requiem. Philippe Jordan conducts the Orchestra of the Paris Opera in instrumental music from all four music dramas in the cycle; the programme reaches a climax with the final scene of the entire work, Brünnhilde’s Immolation from Götterdämmerung, sung by the world’s reigning dramatic soprano, Nina Stemme.  Continue reading

French New Wave: The Scores Collected

JOF001 (3)

FRENCH NEW WAVE: JAZZ ON FILM RECORDINGS 1957 – 1962 Proper Note/Jazzwise JOF001  Given that the wave of French Nouvelle Vague films which changed the face of modern cinema in the 1960s did so by a radical improvisation and re-reinvention of the very language of film, it’s hardly a surprise that the music used for many of the key works in the genre was composed or played by jazz musicians; inspired riffs on plangent themes were the perfect aural accompaniment to the strategies being employed by such directors as Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard and others. One of the key jazz scores written during this period has already enjoyed much praise: Miles Davis’s score for Louis Malle’s Lift to the Scaffold ( which was famously improvised during a showing of the film), but aficionados of French cinema will know that other scores deserve attention — and here is very welcome box set that does just that. Gathering together a group of some of the key scores (including, of course, the celebrated Miles Davis), French New Wave demonstrates that as well as the soundtracks supplied by American musicians such as Miles and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, France could boast its own top-flight jazz musicians — as is evidenced by Martial Solal’s impressive score for Godard’s Breathless. Similarly, Michel Legrand’s score for Eva (technically not a French new wave film – despite the presence of Jeanne Moreau, it’s directed by Joseph Losey and also stars the British actor Stanley Baker) makes this a collectable set. Frankly, not every inclusion is top drawer, but allowances can be made given the generally high quality of most things on offer.