Though it may not be on any singles charts, the theme from Angry Birds is likely one of the most widely heard pieces of music ever. For Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau, that's just one reason to take it seriously — even though it originated in a video game.
From mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's ambitious revival of the early Baroque composer Agostino Stefani (and yes, she's got another outrageous album cover) to three very different roles for the violin, here's a clutch of classical albums I returned to again and again this year for sheer delight and aural inspiration. Bartoli lavishes extravagant attention on the music of a fascinating but forgotten link in the history of opera.
Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 10:36 am
It's true — opera is totally over the top. Plots can strain even the barest semblance of credulity (too many cases of ghosts and mistaken identities to count), with characters that could get you thrown out of an introductory writing course, down to the blushing ingenues and the evil connivers who might as well be twirling waxed mustaches.
The phrase "elegant soul" could describe numerous things: a person, a fashion, a way one deals with life. But after listening to Gene Harris' 1968 recording, I realized that the phrase perfectly describes Harris' style as a pianist. Beautifully accompanied by Andy Simpkins on bass and Carl Burnett on drums (the other "Two Sounds"), Harris plays in the classy way he has been known for, but this time he incorporated ribbons of gospel and maybe A dollop of funk. When you stir this all together, it equals Elegant Soul.