Archive for the 'Easy Listening' Category



24
Dec
09

Le Grand Tango – Christopher O’Riley & Carter Brey (2009)

Yes, I know it is a shock that we here at HiFi Central would actually listen to classical…and perhaps even more bizarre and random, Tango music!  However, if you have been following this blog since its creation all of our contributers listen to just about everything; any good self-proclaimed connesiour of music should; would you not agree?

Often when I am searching out for a good classical album I specfically look for cello heavy albums; for me the cello creates a depth to classical music that most other instruments do not.  Cello and piano duets are like peanut butter and jelly, perfect together and made for each other, add perhaps the occasional “glass of milk” (oboe, viola, or bassoon) and the culmination will create the perfect sounding classical album.

One of my favorite cello and piano albums is by Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax Beethoven: Cello Sonata Opus 102 No.1 on Sony Classical; it has been a very difficult one to top (Ma and Ax have collaborated on several other titles on the Sony Classical label), however I believe that O’Riley (piano) and Brey (cello) have produced a Tango album that just may rival Ma and Ax.  I understand that there is a very large contrast between listening to works by Ludwig Beethoven vs. Astor Piazzolla.  My point is the overall quality of the music, not the specific era styles.  First of all the sound quality is superb and the playing top notch; secondly, the selection of songs are excellent.  This albums really provides the listener with a better understanding with regard to the complexity and beauty of Tango music.  Please know that this is not a Latino-Salsa album, it is strictly classical.

Highlights on this album are the songs Escualo. Milonga En Re, and Le Grand Tango.  These songs are intense and then change to being mellow and serene in an instant; clearly great care was taken in both writing these pieces but also understanding how to play them.  If you appreciate classical music and wish to expand your collection this is a perfect album.  Yes, I’m sure you have a raised eyebrow with regard to Tango, but check it out on LaLa.com and see for yourself.  I was very impressed and ended up buying the album, I can’t stop playing it.

Le Grand Tango gets 4 out of 5 stars.

24
Nov
09

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand (2007)

Per Amazon’s website the pairing of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss was like  putting together “the duo of King Kong and Bambi”; and they are right. Plant and Krauss are the last two I would have thought would collaborate.  To my surprise and delight, after listening to this album I would agree that they are the perfect pairing. 

As one would realize, gone are the days of the wild Robert Plant who’s antics included trashing rooms and riding motorcycles down the hallways of the Chateau Marmont Hotel.  This album seems to take its rightful place and home to todays more mellow Plant.  After Zeppelin it can be seen how Plant decided pursue more mellow outlets than he originally had been identified with, this can be seen with his 80’s project The Honey Drippers.   It has been known that Plant has an insatiable appetite for world music and a drive to explore different avenues and styles for his future albums.  If this album was to be Plants last (which it is not I’m sure) it would be the perfect ending to a musical life well lived.  However, I do not think we have heard the last from him.

Alison Krauss is a household name in the bluegrass world, she is one of the most sought after musicians in Nashville and often is featured as a guest on many bluegrass and contemporary country albums.  Although I’m not the biggest fan of country, I do appreciate bluegrass (Ricky Skaggs, Bill Monroe among my favorites), I must admit that I am a big fan of Alison Krauss and her band Union Station.  I highly recommend her live 2-disc album if you get a chance to grab it, simply incredible.  I’ve converted several of my friends that were “anti-country/ anti-bluegrass” with that album.

Raising Sand is for playing on rainy days, background music when you are having people over for dinner, long car rides out to Buffalo, or cutting your cats nails.  It’s not for getting in the car and cranking it up really loud to relive your Zeppelin glory days.  Raising Sand is a sincere, well produced, and personal album that reflects the gifts of two excellent vocalists, two who compliment each other on every song.

The majority of songs on this album are soft and smoky, cleary a reflection of what producer T Bone Burnett can create with right combination of artists.  Burnett has produced albums for bands such as Counting Crows, K.D. Lang, and The Wallflowers.

Highlights of this album are cleary the opening song Rich Woman (nice use of harmonies and reverb together),songs Killing The Blues & Please Read The Letter;  both created the most noteriety for  much of this album.  Lastly,  Fortune Teller is a fun romp (possibly the most upbeat song on the album) full of reverb, raw acoustic bass, and Plant’s strong, emotional vocals.  Let Your Loss be your Lesson is one my favorites

Raising Sand gets 4 out of 5 in my humble mellow music opinion.




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