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Reviews Written by
Brian H. Williams (Manteca, CA United States)

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Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite; Mississippe Suite
Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite; Mississippe Suite
Price: CDN$ 11.16
23 used & new from CDN$ 7.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Kostelanetz, awful Bernstein, July 9 2004
Given the fact that The Grand Canyon suite is a concert pops piece, it should be a piece of cake for Lenny to pull this off. Well, he can't, and it's terrible. The most famous movement, On The Trail, is lacking the excitement and spirit that this needs. His celeste solo is so over blown with extra accents and mannered phrasing, you realize just how self indulgent Bernstein is. Compare this to Stanley Black. His Grand Canyon is terrific. With Phase 4 engineering, great strings and plenty of spirit, he captures the mood of the piece with great verve. Skip the Bernstein tracks and just listen to Kostelanetz. The string sound he gets from the NYP is much better than Bernstein. It's hard to believe that it's the same orchestra. Even though this work is much shorter, Kostelanetz gives it his all. Daybreak is uplifting and majestic. Since this piece is rarely played, it's nice to have it on cd. Kostelanetz is the only version you'll need. Skip Bernstein and listen to Kostelanetz.

Singin And Swingin Best Of
Singin And Swingin Best Of
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5.0 out of 5 stars Earl Grant - The Jack of All Trades, June 24 2004
Earl Grant is now a faded memory in the music scene. For several decades, his music had been out of print. When this cd was released in 1997, I shelled out premium bucks for it. It was worth it. I was hoping for more Grant material in the near future, but alas, none has surfaced. So, Grant fans must purchase this one. But, one Earl Grant cd is better than nothing, which was what we had for years. This is a compilations of his material he recorded in the 50's and 60's. This release has outstanding liner notes by Joesph Laredo, which tells of his beginnings, up to his tragic death in a car accident in 1970 at age 39. All the big hits are here, The End, Ebb Tide, Spanish Eyes, Stand By Me and many others. It's utterly amazing how Earl navigates his way through the music singing and playing both the organ and piano all at the same time. Singing and playing was something that even the great Nat King Cole couldn't do! Yes! Many people don't notice it, but you only hear Nat's piano when he's NOT singing. He adds little fills at the end of his phrases, but he doesn't do full blown accompaniment the way Grant does! If you are unfamiliar with this musician, get to know him by buying this release.

Cole Porter Duke Ellington & Me
Cole Porter Duke Ellington & Me
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cano at last!, June 24 2004
Eddie Cano started with Cal Tjader as his pianist and arranger. Sadly, Cano has become a faded memory in the jazz world. He had numerous recordings for RCA, Reprise and GNP. Amazingly, this is the only album RCA has chosen to release and the only Cano album on the market. If you want more Cano, buy the Cal Tjader album "Latino." This album has Cano's big band, his compositions and his arrangments for Tjader. Eddie Cano is best known for his version of A Taste of Honey. Cano hails from Mexico and is a brilliant arranger, much like his counterpart from Mexio, Esquivel. This album, focuses on the afro-cuban rhythms Cano is known for. The selections are top rate and the arrangements are highly original. Those of you who are familiar with the Duke Ellington masterpiece "Prelude to A Kiss" will be in for a surprise when you hear this arrangement. This is without question, the most original, imaginative arrangement one is likely to hear. Using only latin percussion and trombones to augment his piano, the song, which is a ballad, is played faster and with a strong latin beat. The trombones play the beginning of the melody then is finished with Cano's piano. I'm willing to go as far to say that this is possibly one of the finest versions of this song ever recorded. One has to hear it to believe it. Rather than taking the main melody and improvising with a new one based on the song's chord progression, he keeps the melody flowing and uses the latin rhythm to keep it exciting. This album is worth buying for this recording alone. The Cano originals are highly enjoyable too. If you know the great tunes he wrote for Cal Tjader, then you already know to expect great melody from Cano. My favorite one on this album is "Cotton Candy." Not be confused with the Al Hirt song of the same name. The Porter selections are also outstanding as well. It just goes to show how well suited Cole Porter melodies are to latin rhythms. Do yourself a favor and purchase this album. Once you know Eddie Cano, you will want to hear more of his recordings.

Brahms: Symphony No. 2; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. ("Italian")
Brahms: Symphony No. 2; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. ("Italian")
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5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic Brahms and Lighthearted Mendelssohn, May 18 2004
If you are searching for a truly great recording of the Brahms 2 and have laready heard the classics by Walter, Barbirolli, Szell and Steinberg, you will still need to add this to your collection. One of Stoky's last recordings of his career, it was recorded for CBS in 1977. Thanks to the Stokowski Society licensing the mastertapes from Sony Music, this recording has never sounded better. Nice wide separation and beautiful balancing. Stokowski's reading has a soft, lush quality. The string tone is so warm and lush, it will give you goose bumps. Stokowski is nowhere near as aggressive as Ketesz in his reading for Decca. Also of note, for the first time in his long career, Stokowski observes the exposition repeat for both the symphonies. Also absent are any changes in the score. Those of you who know Stokowski well may find this surprising, but he still delivers a great performance. The second movement is peaceful and calming. The fourth movement, known for it's drive at the coda is taken at a perfect pace with out exaggerating the intensity in the brass. A wonderful reading. The Mendelssohn is also blessed with wonderful singing strings and taken at the perfect tempo. Mendelssohn was frequently absent from Stoky's concerts and recordings, so we should be grateful he chose to record this before his death. This is a great release with top notch remastering and updated liner notes. Grab this one!

Soft Lights, Sweet Trumpet - O
Soft Lights, Sweet Trumpet - O
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4.0 out of 5 stars Two sides of James, Feb. 4 2004
Unlike the other reviewer of this cd, I enjoy the softer side of James. Sure they are standards, but the mood is very relaxed and it DOES NOT place the James band in the easy listening category. There are many improvised moments during the solo spots. I would agree that if both of the live albums were put together, it would have made for a more logical music flow. Maybe time restrictions could not allow both of the live performances to be placed to together. Sonically, the studio performance is much better than the live one. The live recording sounds curiously dated. Not bad, but it certainly can be much better. Considering that the studio album is older by a few months and is sonically superior. The live album also contains a disppointing version of Ultra. This older version is in no way competitive to the updated arrangemet Harry would record for MGM. This version is available on a Verve cd titled, Harry James - The Silver Collection. That version, also live, is far superior to this slower version. This version lacks the energy and excitement that James had in his newer version. Sonically, it is superior too. It is in stereo with nice clean highs and full bass. Still, this is a good cd if you are a James fan.

Piano Concerto No 2
Piano Concerto No 2
Price: CDN$ 13.72
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Richter's great, but poor conducting of Tchaikovsky, Jan. 30 2004
This review is from: Piano Concerto No 2 (Audio CD)
Have you ever wondered why Karajan ONLY performed with young musicians after his recording with Richter? Think about it. Why is that every soloist his age he recorded with, never made another record with him. Answer. Because Karajan could not control the soloist. The young ones looked up to him and Karjan could mold them into what ever musician he wanted. Hence, we have brilliant playing by Richter, but TERRIBLE conducting by Herbert Von Karajan. Richter's playing is breathtaking as usual, but the conducting is cold, non expressive and rough. What's Richter supposed to do? If you want the Tchaikovsky, there are many other versions available, and many are superior to this one. If you want the perfect combination of virtuoisity from the pianist and great leadership from the conductor, go with Earl Wild on Chesky. His performance with Fistoulari is quite possibly the greatest version on disk. American Record Guide selected Wild as the number one choice for this work. Of course there are others, Gilels with Reiner, Ogden with Monteux, and three different ones with Argerich. Any of these would be a better choice than this one. Richter has other versions with different conductors. Go with them instead of Karajan.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2016 8:44 AM PDT

Vln Ctos
Vln Ctos
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2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, Jan. 13 2004
This review is from: Vln Ctos (Audio CD)
Many classical fans have lauded this recording. I bought Menuhin's recording with Efrem Kurtz. The performance that EMI has hailed as one of the great recordings of the century. Well, Menuhin's violin is recorded so distantly that it's hard to hear him. And his version with Furtwangler has more insight, but his playing is lacking the smoothness and singing quality that Francescatti and Mitropolous brings to this work. If you believe that Menuhin is one of the best on this work, you should hear Francescatti. He'll make you change your mind.

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2; Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F Minor  "Appassionata"
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2; Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F Minor "Appassionata"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect Brahms, perfect Beethoven, Jan. 9 2004
This is a classic among classics. I love Richter's Brahms for the bold, majestic and passionate reading. But if you really want to split hairs, the people who love this recording still must listen to Gina Bachauer with Antal Dorati (on Chesky) and Wilhelm Backhaus with Karl Bohm (on Decca) to realize that Richter's version is not the last word. Take piano tone, Richter is no where near as full bodied as Backhaus. Even Backhaus's phrasing is superior. Taken at a slightly slower pace, Bohm's terrific conducting also add's to the excitement. just to prove my point, play the introduction of Richter's recording and play Backhaus. You'd have to be deaf not to notice the difference of phrasing and touch. The same can be said for Bachauer. The feminine touch is a huge asset to Brahms. Not nearly as masculine as Backhaus, nor too light, but instead, songful and precise. Not to mention, Doati's strings from the Royal Philharmonic sound better than what Leinsdorf or Bohm illicit from their respective orchestra's. Having said all this, you may think I don't enjoy Richter's recording, I do, but I feel that many listeners often place this recording so far up the charts, they are not aware there are some great recordings that sometime surpass the favorites. The Beethoven is another matter. That introduction is taken with such speed, strength and virtuosity, it's almost amazing that Richter can pull it off an convincingly as I do. After hearing Richter, it's really difficult to hear the others, despite some stiff competition from Backhaus (a great recording on Decca) and Horowitz (on Sony.) But this is just my opinion. You may like your Beethoven more gentle and not as aggressive. Yes, I agree that it's appropriate for some of the other sonatas, but Richter's version is the one to own.

Strings Latino- Latin Hits I Missed. Edmundo Ros and His Orc
Strings Latino- Latin Hits I Missed. Edmundo Ros and His Orc
Price: CDN$ 33.18
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth and rhythmic, Jan. 3 2004
Edmundo Ros, now in his 90's made several great albums in his prime, this cd contains two great examples. Strings Latino is the better album. Strings fit well with Ros's usual setting. The highlight of this album is Felicidade. The Jobim classic has NEVER sounded better as it does on this album. The arrangement begins with guitar before the basses and celli enter to support the melody softly played with flute. I dare any conductor to match this brilliant arrangement. A good album, one that should be part of any latin music collection.

More of Other Worlds, Other...
More of Other Worlds, Other...
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Price: CDN$ 61.89
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5.0 out of 5 stars Esquivel Genuis, Oct. 3 2001
After four years of recording for RCA, Esquivel's popularity was still high, and yet, his contract was not renewed. So, he signed on to the Sinatra owned label, Reprise. This album has many cuts that have been used on commercials, news specials and television shows. His arrangement of "I Get A Kick Out Of You" is so original, that you'll be playing it over and over again and attempt to analyze his method of orchestration. The only other piano version that can top Esquivel in this song is Nat King Cole. Cole's version is available on the album "The Piano Style of Nat King Cole." Another great album, worthy of owning. Although the playing time on this album is short, every tune is a model of unique arranging and stunning orchestral arranging. If you are new to Esquivel, this is a great album in which to get started This one is intended as a sequel to his RCA release, Other Worlds, Other Sounds, but the fact that is not as eccentric as some of his other releases, make this an easy album to new comers to the great Esquivel. A great album.

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