Mozart's The Impresario is the one-act singspiel about squabbling sopranos whose trifling nature leads audiences to assume it must be an early work. In fact, it's a mature score, written alongside The Marriage of Figaro.There is, alas, no evidence that Mozart put anything in the way of The Beneficent Dervish, and it shows in a score that offers not too much beyond period charm. But it's of interest as one of the musical pantomimes devised by Schikaneder just before The Magic Flute (another was The Philosopher's Stone, to which Mozart almost certainly did contribute). And dramatically, if not musically, it has so much in common with Flute that it almost qualifies as a preliminary sketch. This is the premiere recording, and it's neatly put together by Boston Baroque, one of the most respected ensembles of its kind in North America.
IonartsThe reviewer also had this to say: "Beautiful? Nay. Unless you have a mildly strange sense of what beauty is." But then who would have thought the definition of beauty is a question better left in the eye of the beholder? Can we forget about the value judgment for once and just enjoy the damn music?!
For less erudite or less theoretically inclined ears, what remains is a jumble of sound, an intellectual challenge. And yet, I cannot but enjoy the music utterly. Of course, the enjoyment is not quite the same as when listening to a middle Beethoven sonata, or even a late one, but anyone who knows what it takes to learn to like Beethoven's String Quartets, a work just as austere as Boulez's Sonatas are (seemingly) erratic, is on his way to find entertainment, solace, pleasure in these keyboard paintings. If looking at Barnett Newman's work can fill you with an inexplicable sense of awe, you will likely enjoy these works so engagingly and convincingly told by Boulez's hand-picked pianist Paavali Jumppanen. I remember listening to Debussy preludes for the first couple of times with similar enjoyable incomprehension. Not the music counted then, but the faintly grasped, hardly understood pictures it evoked.
On his 2013 release The North Borders, British producer Simon Green (aka Bonobo) continues along the organic-meets-electronic path that his 2010 release Black Sands followed, but this walk takes place as it's turning to dusk, and there are varying degrees of mist and chilliness along the way. Opener "First Fires" with Grey Reverend (singer/songwriter L.D. Brown) sounds like it could be quite warm, but it's entirely autumn-minded sweater music that wistfully wonders what to do with "faded dreams" as Green allows bits of glitchy sunlight to shine through his cloudy synth construction. "Emkay" is the clangs and echoes of a seaside port at night that wonderfully shuffles its way up to a lighthouse tune, then there's majestic songstress Erykah Badu wonderfully vibing ("We don't need no truth/Got plenty/Now it grows on trees") on "Heaven for the Sinner" over Bonobo's deep version of the broken beat. "Towers" suggests sleepy urban buildings in twilight with a vibraphone representing the little bits of life and light that will sparkle through the night, while "Don't Wait" is just before the dawn, as innocent chimes chase away the eerie things that lurk in the darkness.