David Atherton made a fine reputation for himself as a contemporary music conductor back in his salad days with the London Sinfonietta, nowhere more so than in his three-disc (now two-CD) set of music by Kurt Weill. He certainly hasn’t lost his magic touch in the intervening years. These performances of the two symphonies sweep the (not very full) board. Swift, lean, incisive, and always exciting, Atherton reveals all of this music’s anger, irony, and bittersweet lyricism without a trace of histrionics or self-indulgence. Indeed, a certain coolness is part of the point too. And so in the marvelous Second Symphony, Atherton catches the neo-classical temper of its outer movements with impeccable wit and grace, making the passionate intensity of the magnificent central slow movement all the more shocking as a result.
By the time David Lindley made his move to a solo career, he was already a legend. Having toured and recorded with such names as Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and Crosby & Nash, his reputation as a multi-instrumentalist (on almost any stringed instrument) was awesome. Lindley scored a contract with Elektra Records and put together an excellent band that was able to keep up with his eclectic vision. Combining blues, rock & roll, Cajun, Zydeco, Middle Eastern music, and other elements, his debut album is an absolute joy.