French accordion maestro Galliano brings this band to the London jazz festival on 17 November and the mix is certainly tempting – Nino Rota's timeless movie themes interpreted by an elite international jazz quintet featuring Dave Douglas on trumpet, John Surman on reeds, Boris Kozlov on bass and Clarence Penn on drums. Listeners attracted more by the lineup than the material should note that the jazz shades and subtly skews the compositions rather than taking them over, and that Surman in particular isn't much heard outside of his ensemble role.
Recorded in 1967, the recording features Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti at the high-noon of their careers! Pavarotti, with great charm and humor, tosses off endless high notes in a barnstorming performance. Sutherland easily tackles the great vocal demands and gives an effortlessly stunning performance. No other recording of this opera has come close to surpassing this classic for vocal beauty and sheer thrills!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: not only is Messiaen’s epic meditation on the birth of Christ one of his most astonishing creations, it’s also one of the greatest solo organ pieces ever written. As with so much of his oeuvre, which spans all genres, the composer’s Catholicism is an unequivocal and indivisible part of his unique, instantly recognisable aesthetic. Indeed, it would be impossible to attribute, say, the Turangalîla-Symphonie, Catalogue d'oiseaux or Des Canyons aux étoiles to anyone else. And working my way through Sylvain Cambreling’s Hänssler box of the orchestral music for a future review, I was struck anew by the sheer range and consistency of Messiaen’s craft.