What you're about to read is a collection of pointers to some of the music I've discovered on the iTunes Music Store, music I like enough that I want to share it. If you're an iPod owner and an iTunes fan (and if you aren't, what are you doing here?), maybe you'll find something new. Click on any of the CD covers to bounce over to the store and sample a few tracks. And then maybe stop by my other blog for a few well chosen words (and maybe a random snark or two).RSS feed
All the music (502)
  Alternative (67)
   Audiobook (10)
    Blues (3)
     Children's Music (5)
      Classical (28)
       Comedy (10)
        Country (21)

  Dance (4)
   Easy Listening (2)
    Electronic (13)
     Folk (27)
      French Pop (1)
       German Folk (1)
        German Pop (1)

  Hip-Hop/Rap (2)
   Holiday (5)
    Jazz (35)
     Latin (4)
      New Age (8)
       Podcast (5)
        Pop (72)

  R&B/Soul (4)
   Reggae (4)
    Rock (105)
     Soundtrack (32)
      Spoken Word (1)
       Vocal (15)
        World (15)

Have some music to recommend? I can always use a few pointers. Use the comments link at the bottom of the page.
Disordered.org Web
Apple iTunes Locations of visitors to this page

Mon, 14 May 2007

We Just Burned This for You / Time for Three
I'm about to demonstrate yet again my bias against, and likely my ignorance of, classical music. Although this isn't entirely classical; the three classically trained musicians (two violins and one stand up bass) throw some bluegrass and some classic rock in among the more traditional classical selections. And it all sounds great, in a lively toe-tapping kind of live recording way that surprises me, given their training. But that's just me again, letting preconceptions get in the way of a good listening experience. I'm sure you won't make the same mistake. We Just Burned This for You
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 19 Mar 2007

Where Beauty Moves and Wit Delights / The New World Renaissance Band
The New World Renaissance Band is the creation of one Owain Phyfe, and how great is that? I mean really; if a name is destiny, how could someone with a name like that end up as something modern? You don't meet too many tech support guys named Owain, now do you? No, it's better that he roam the country's Renaissance Faires, with his voice and his chitarra batente, whatever the heck that might be. As for the music (you were wondering if I'd ever get to that), it's as authentic as you'd want. Which is to say, not entirely. And that's goodness, 'cause as far removed as we are from whatever time it is the Ren Faire is supposed to represent, we wouldn't enjoy the real thing nearly as much as something adjusted for our more modern sensibilities. At least that's what Owain says. And if you can't trust a guy like Owain, what hope is there for the world? Where Beauty Moves and Wit Delights
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 19 Feb 2007

Sunshine and Tears / Audrey Cupples
I have certain preconceived notions that kick in when I encounter classical music, as perhaps do you. This isn't that kind of classical; Audrey Cupples plays the sax with a joy and a bounce that reminds me of my first exposure to the classics: Warner cartoons. I'd call it saxy, but I've promised myself I'd avoid obvious sax and violins puns. They're beneath me. (Mostly.)

But I also have to make mention of Ms. Cupples' website, which is charmingly primitive, as much a throwback to a simpler (and happier?) time as is her music.

Sunshine and Tears
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 22 Jan 2007

Appassionato / Yo-Yo Ma
It is no coincidence, I suspect, that this collection arrived just a month before Valentine's Day. This is Yo-Yo Ma at his most romantic, and just the thing for a celebration of couplehood or an effort to achieve that state, whether for the long or short term. I like a little more variety. Then again there's a time and a place for variety, and a time and place for focus. Which this is depends on the kind of time you're planning. And the place you'll have it, I suppose. Appassionato
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 27 Oct 2006

Paganini - Spohr: Violin Concertos / Eije Oue, Hilary Hahn & Sveriges Radiokorkester
Paganini - Spohr: Violin Concertos I'd classify the two concerti (I hope that's the plural of concerto) on this album is accessible; heck, they'd almost have to be to keep my interest. I'm not that much of a classical enthusiast, pretty young virtuosos (virtuosi?) on the cover notwithstanding. So it helps if the music is energetic and fun and varied. Complexity for its own sake doesn't do it for me. Fortunately, the Paganini especially is both a torture test for the violinist and pure pleasure for the audience. And I especially enjoyed the few minutes of interviews with that violinist. It's a little glimpse behind the scenes, helped along by the fact that Ms. Hahn is as articulate as she is skilled. Now that's rare.
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 02 Oct 2006

Bach and Beyond / Gabriela Montero
Bach and Beyond could be Exhibit A in the case against today's recording industry. Not because there's anything wrong with it; there isn't. But if the bully boys and girls at the RIAA had existed a few centuries ago, an album like this would never have been possible. Hell, Bach himself would have found it hard to create music if he'd been hampered by the record firms' insistence that music be captured in amber and preserved, untouched, forevermore. Improvization and manipulation of what came before is at the heart of music, and always has been. What's changed is the technology, and the ability of big companies and their abusive legal representation to stomp out hundred, likely thousands, of years of tradition.

Their behavior sucks. And it would have done more than suck in Bach's time; it would have deprived us of our musical heritage, just as Disney and friends continue to co-opt our storytelling tradition and put that too under lock and key. Maybe some day we'll realize what we're losing and take back our heritage. But probably not.

Bach and Beyond
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 14 Jun 2006

Breathe: The Relaxing Harp / Yolanda Kondonassis
Breathe: The Relaxing Harp Some instruments were destined for shuffle play. Especially the harp; I don't know about you, but I can't listen to more than three or four minutes of harp music before I start to doze off. The word relaxing in the title should be a warning label: do not listen to this album while driving! But spread out among louder, more raucous and insistent tracks, Ms. Kondonassis's performances of these classical pieces may be allowed to shine without risking automotive fatality. And they may just be the perfect accompaniment for my next seemingly endless air trip. Cheaper than drugs, and with fewer side effects.
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 05 Jun 2006

The Essential Mormon Tabernacle Choir / Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Essential Mormon Tabernacle Choir It's awful, I know, but the first image I get when I hear the name Mormon Tabernacle Choir is from the premiere episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. In the moments before Andy Travis changes the station to Rock, there's Dr. Johnny Fever playing the Choir's rendition of Paul Anka's immortal You're Having My Baby. Okay, that's not really the Choir. But it's really funny.

But of course the Mormon Tabernacle Choir isn't funny. It's serious stuff. Even when they do the kind of pops material on this collection. Most of these songs were written for the stage or the screen. And at least a few of them must have been lively. Now they're stately and, yes, serious. Guess it's hard to have fun in large groups.

[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 05 May 2006

Szymanowski/Chausson/Saint-Saens / Nicola Benedetti & the London Symphony Orchestra
Elsewhere on this site I describe my first visit to Singapore, which I thought of as Asia For Dummies for the ease with which an unsophisticated American can get around. It's exotic without being challenging. That's the way I feel about Nicola Beneditti's first album. The performances are lovely, and they may even be challenging to the violinist who performs them. (What do I know? I can't play a videogame.) But there's no challenge here for the listener. This is classical music for people who think they won't like classical music. It's nice and all. But how about something soul-stirring? Something to stretch our taste, to make us go "wow"? Maybe next album. Szymanowski/Chausson/Saint-Saens
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 21 Apr 2006

Dedication / Andrés Segovia
I'm working from memory here, so what follows may be entirely wrong. But not wrong in any important way, so bear with me.

As I recall, it was one of my junior high school English teachers who introduced us to the music of Segovia. Having grown up with The Beatles, the idea of classical guitar was anathema. I think I was impressed by what I heard, but not particularly interested. But something must have stuck, if only the idea that there were more kinds of music than got played on Top 40 AM radio. Even guitar music.

I associate Segovia with Spanish guitar, which is probably unfair. Not that there's anything at all wrong with Spanish guitar. It's just that the classical works on display here are more varied and often gentler than what I think of when I hear that term. There is a rare kind of beauty in his playing that I don't hear in rock or folk or country. Definitely worth another listen.

[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 04 Jan 2006

The Mozart Sessions / Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea & The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
I'm trying to survive a bout of the flu as I type this, so forgive me if I'm missing something obvious here. But the pricing on this album makes no sense at all to me. Here's the deal: Click on the BUY ALBUM button and it'll cost you $11.99. Or you can buy tracks 1-3 with the BUY WORK button for $2.97, tracks 4-6 for another $2.97 and track 7 for $.99. Unless I'm delirious, that adds up to a whole lot less than $11.99. It does, doesn't it?

As for the album itself, which consists of variations and improvisations on themes by Grandmaster Wolfgang himself, it's certainly pleasant enough. But somehow I expect more from the guys who gave us Don't Worry, Be Happy and Cool Weasel Boogie. It's a sad thing when such accomplished risk takers don't take risks.

The Mozart Sessions
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 07 Dec 2005

Pride and Prejudice / Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Pride and Prejudice is a story of the late 18th or early 19th century. Thank goodness the makers of this latest adaptation left both story and music in that time. As universal as its themes may be, its themes need to be of a piece with Austen's sparkling dialogue. The music is new, but it belongs to the story. It doesn't call attention to itself, except in rare cases like The Militia Marches In, where it's supposed to. I love Austen, I admit; I'm a sucker for a good romantic tale. The best compliment I can pay is to think that the author herself would have approved of the score. Pride and Prejudice
[ Category: Classical | 1 comment | Link ]

Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Elgar: Cello Concerto & other works / Daniel Barenboim, Jacqueline du Pré
Sometimes we can know more about great artists than is good for us. I didn't know who Barenboim and du Pré were before Hilary and Jackie came out. Jacqueline du Pré was that Jackie, the brilliant, unorthodox, unstable and eventually tragic cellist played by Emily Watson; Daniel Barenboim was her husband, an equally brilliant pianist who may or may not have been quite the self-absorbed and unsupportive tool described in the book. Their performances together on this album are exactly what I would expect of two such virtuosos (virtuosi?). But can I forget what I know, or at least what I have been told, and focus on the music? Even with music as soaring as this, the distance and the looming tragedy seem to seep into the work. I can't decide if it's better to know or not. But not hearing the performance; that would be yet another tragedy. Elgar: Cello Concerto & other works
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 17 Oct 2005

Golijov: Ayre & Berio: Folksongs / Dawn Upshaw & Andalucian Dogs
Even in miniature, cover art matters. This is a case in point; the little bit of Hebrew and Arabic on the cover got my attention and made me curious. I'd heard of Dawn Upshaw, an operatic soprano I knew for her appearances on National Public Radio, often over some popular music project. So I didn't know what to expect; would this be classical music or something more accessible?

A little of both, as it turned out. Ayre, a new work by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov, combines Jewish, Arab Christian and Palestinian source material into a work for orchestra and Ms. Upshaw's voice. With so many influences, it's hard to characterize: sometimes gentle, sometimes wistful, sometimes soaring. Folksongs is an older but similar work by Luciano Berio, who took traditional songs from the U.S., France, Italy, Armenia and Azerbeidjan and assembled them into a torture test for the vocalist but not, thankfully, for the audience. Both compositions move between strange and familiar almost from moment to moment.

And no, in case you were wondering, I didn't know any of this before I started writing this review. Amazing what you can find with a Google search or two. Or, in this case, twelve...

Golijov: Ayre & Berio: Folksongs
[ Category: Classical | 1 comment | Link ]

Fri, 15 Jul 2005

Riders on the Storm: The Doors Concerto / Kennedy, Coleman, Prague Symphony
I love stuff like this. I shouldn't, I suppose. But I do; I can't help it.

Take some classic hits by The Doors, arrange them for a full orchestra and a solo violinist and try your best to end up with something more interesting than elevator music. Sometimes the original melodies are easy to recognize, as with Hello, I Love You. And sometimes they're just part of the mix, as in the title track and People Are Strange.

My classical friends would turn up their noses at the misuse of all that talent. But if you aren't offended by such sacrilege, if you enjoy hearing an orchestra play something you recognize, you too might find this Concerto up your alley. Or in your elevator. Whatever.

Riders on the Storm: The Doors Concerto
[ Category: Classical | 1 comment | Link ]

Mon, 04 Jul 2005

The American Album / Leonard Slatkin & St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
The American Album Happy Independence Day! I promise to get back to more eclectic selections in my next posting. But for now, let's wallow in the trough of unbridled patriotism a moment longer.

What can I say? I love 4th of July concerts. Not just for the Sousa overdose, but for all the other classics we don't hear the rest of the year, especially now that Robert Mitchum isn't around to pitch the Beef Council.

Granted, a 4th concert isn't complete for me unless it includes the not-American 1812 Overture with firework cannons. But today's the one day when I can hear The Stars and Stripes Forever without irony. (Fanfare for the Common Man is good any time.)

[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 01 Jul 2005

The World of Sousa Marches
As we head into 4th of July weekend, don't even the most hard-bitten of us get just a twinge of good old fashioned "my country right or wrong" patriotism? And who better to fill us Murrkins with a sense of pride than John Philip Sousa, the most stirring and most unapologetically boosterish of composers. Why, we'd have to be six months dead not to have our pulses quicken when the Washington Post March plays. (The paper may be a shadow of its former glory, but the march still works.) Granted, it's hard to take the Liberty Bell March seriously. But that's the fault of some British guys. And isn't the 4th all about ragging on the Brits? The World of Sousa Marches
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 30 May 2005

Madrigal History Tour / The King's Singers
I first heard The King's Singers on some show on National Public Radio; they were talking about and performing the music of the Comedian Harmonists, a German vocal group that was hugely popular during the 20s and 30s, before their Jewish members ran afoul of a steadily more repressive national government. It's not often you discover two interesting musical groups at one time. And once I'd purchased and enjoyed the The Singers' take on The Harmonists, I went on to discover their a cappella performances of Gilbert & Sullivan and some more contemporary artists.

It was this album's title that caught my attention, even before I recognized the singers. (Or should that be The Singers?) I'll admit to a weakness for puns, and Madrigal History Tour has the virtue of being both accurately descriptive and amusing. As for the music, it makes me long for autumn and the opening of the Renaissance Faire. And we haven't even gotten to summer yet!

Madrigal History Tour
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 22 Apr 2005

Chopin & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas / Hélène Grimaud
At the age of 35, Tom Lehrer famously observed thus: "It is a sobering thought to realize that when Mozart was my age, he'd been dead for three years." When we're young we don't recognize genius. When we're older we either claim it without deserving it, or try to devalue it in others. And if we're really lucky, we eventually reach a stage where we just appreciate it when we find it without hating those who have it.

On rare occasion I feel like a member of that last group, especially when I listen to brilliant music performed brilliantly. Like now, when I listen to Hélène Grimaud at the piano, calling forth sounds of such grace and beauty they don't seem real. The music is mostly new to me, my classical education being limited to Warner Brothers cartoons. Aside from one little bit from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor, Op. 35; every time I hear it, I think of the accompanying couplet from my childhood:

    "Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you.
     Simply because they have nothing else to do..."
Hey, you didn't expect me to stay serious through this entire review, did you?
Chopin & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas
[ Category: Classical | 1 comment | Link ]

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

The Fascination of Furtwängler / Wilhelm Furtwängler
How can we separate art from politics? Should we? Do we shun the Dixie Chicks when they disparage the president? (I don't. Then again, I agree with them.) Do we refuse to play Wagner because he was a virulent anti-semite? Or is it just because his music sucks?

Not an easy question. I raise it because of this new collection of classic works conducted by the Wilhelm Furtwängler, a man I discovered largely for the chance to make fun of his name but who raises more interesting questions than "why didn't his father change it to something less appalling?"

Furtwängler, you see, was the director of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Nazi era. By staying in Germany and holding on to his high profile position, he became a symbol of the horrors of his time. There are claims that he stood up to the authorities, that he did what he could for Jewish musicians. Perhaps he did; perhaps he was insufficiently heroic. Perhaps he was more; that's a question we can never answer for certain. But knowing a little of the story colors the music, lends it a sadness and a hollowness beyond the notes themselves.

The Fascination of Furtwänger
[ Category: Classical | Add a comment | Link ]

Take me home: Next 8:

Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California