AUM Fidelity The suc­cess of free im­pro­vi­sa­tion is gen­er­ally down to what­ever re­sources the mu­si­cians bring to the stage and the bal­ance they man­age to strike – be­tween each other and be­tween or­der and chaos. Farm­ers by Na­ture, a trio of em­i­nent Amer­i­can jazz mu­si­cians, strike those bal­ances per­fectly: drum­mer Ger­ald Cleaver drives the group from be­low with imag­i­na­tion; pi­anist Craig Taborn shapes the mu­sic from above, drop­ping fresh har­monic and melodic ideas into open space; and sub­tly giv­ing the mu­sic pur­pose and di­rec­tion from the cen­tre is veteran free bassist Wil­liam Parker. Recorded live at two 2011 con­certs in France, Farm­ers by Na­ture’s third re­lease con­firms their sta­tus as one of the lead­ing free en­sem­bles work­ing to­day. For the open of mind and ad­ven­tur­ous of ear, there are oceanic depths here. aum­fi­

MEN­DELSSOHN: SYM­PHONIES NOS 1 & 3 (SCOT­TISH) Nether­lands SO/Jan Willem de Vriend

Chal­lenge Clas­sics CC 72641 Men­delssohn com­pleted a dozen strings-only sym­phonies be­fore, at the age of 15, he got around to his for­mal No 1. Jan Willem de Vriend here cou­ples it with the Scot­tish, be­gun five years later and num­bered No 3, but ac­tu­ally the last to be com­pleted. There’s a lot of high-en­ergy mu­sic in both works, and if you are at­tuned to the gen­tler side of Men­delssohn you may find your­self tak­ing ex­cep­tion to the wind-in-the­face, of­ten high-pres­sure style of De Vriend’s mu­sic-mak­ing. De Vriend has a back­ground in the pe­riod per­for­mance of early mu­sic, and he brings that sen­si­bil­ity to Men­delssohn in ways that af­fect ev­ery sec­tion of the orches­tra, and pro­vide many fresh tex­tu­ral and tonal per­spec­tives. The ef­fect in the First Sym­phony is es­pe­cially in­vig­o­rat­ing. chal­


Wergo WER 6789 2 The works here by Bucharest­born Adri­ana Hölszky range over three decades: . . . und wieder Dunkel I (1985-90) for per­cus­sion (Jens Brüls) and or­gan; . . . und ich sah we ein gläsernes Meer, mid Feuer gemischt . . . (1996-97) for or­gan solo; and Efeu und Licht­feld (2008) for vi­o­lin (Sabine Akiko Ahrendt) and or­gan. The decade that comes to mind, how­ever, is the 1960s, with the avant-garde reper­toire of the ex­per­i­men­tal or­gan­ist Gerd Zacher (who died in June) the most ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence. The piece with per­cus­sion takes in­spi­ra­tion from Got­tfried Benn’s poem Ein Wort, and part of that text – “A word – a glow, a flight, a fire/a burst of flame, a streak of stars” – nicely sug­gests the un­pre­dictabil­ity of this some­times am­bling, some­times giddy mu­sic.

Maria João Pires (pi­ano), Swedish Ra­dio SO/Daniel Harding

Onyx 4126 Por­tuguese pi­anist Maria João Pires does things her own way. Th­ese two Beethoven pi­ano con­cer­tos are long in her reper­toire, but Pires didn’t record them un­til last Oc­to­ber, when she was 69. And her part­ner in the ven­ture, English con­duc­tor Daniel Harding, is in many ways her mu­si­cal op­po­site. Harding’s ap­proach draws at­ten­tion to it­self in the mould­ing of phrases, the bal­anc­ing of in­stru­men­tal groups within the orches­tra, even down to the tra­jec­tory and du­ra­tion of sin­gle bow strokes. Pires is ev­ery bit as de­tailed in her re­sponses, but hers is much more the kind of art that hides art, giv­ing the im­pres­sion of nat­u­rally easy mu­si­cal flow. In the event, the two com­ple­ment each other very ef­fec­tively. Shame­lessly pig­gy­back­ing on the re­cent ma­nia for all things Kate Bush, London elec­tro duo Alice Fox and Jack St James recorded this nifty cover of her 1985 smash hit. It’s ba­si­cally a sounda­like of the orig­i­nal with some added drum ma­chine thrown in for good mea­sure. It’s not nearly as in­ven­tive as, say, the Fu­ture­heads’ 2005 reimag­ing­ing of Hounds of Love, but it works for me. sound­­sans

LA ROUX Sexotheque

Poly­dor The sec­ond sin­gle from Elly Jack­son’s Trou­ble in Par­adise al­bum is a laid-back beach­party lament about a girl who wants to set­tle down when her man isn’t yet ready to do so. Which makes the jar­ring cho­rus all the more shock­ing. “He never an­swers the phone,” goes the pop mon­de­green of the year. “I bet he’s at the sex at­tack.” Ac­tu­ally, its “sexotheque”. I have no clue what that means, but hope­fully no one gets as­saulted there.

JOANNA GRUE­SOME Psy­kick Es­pi­onage

Love and Ghosts

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