From an early age Max Bruch had enjoyed the ideal conditions for becoming a composer: his family had considerable cultural awareness and gave him all the support he needed. He had already composed not only a (lost) symphony but a significant proportion of his chamber music while still a student. The two youthful String Quartets Op.9 in C minor and Op.10 in E major show a Romantic exuberance poured into classic and classical moulds. The members of the ISOS Quartet — Isabelle van Keulen, Katharine Gowers, Vladimir Mendelssohn and Imke Frank — know each other from several important summer festivals as Lockenhaus and Kuhmo. As their CD debut, they recorded both string quartets by Max Bruch exclusively for Koch International Schwann.
Other than a trio set with the legendary pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali, this set was Max Roach's only recording as a leader during 1963-67. Three of the six numbers ("Nommo," "St. Louis Blues" and "In the Red") find Roach heading a group that includes trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, altoist James Spaulding, pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Jymie Merritt and, on "St. Louis Blues," Roland Alexander on soprano. Their music is essentially advanced hard-bop with a generous amount of space taken up by Roach's drum solos. The other three selections ("The Drum Also Waltzes," "Drums Unlimited" and "For Big Sid") are unaccompanied features for Max Roach and because of the melodic and logically-planned nature of his improvisations, they continually hold on to one's attention.
Historian Dr Michael Scott unlocks the secrets of a mysterious tomb recently discovered in one of Rome's famous catacombs. Found by accident following a roof collapse, the tombs contained over 2,000 skeletons piled on top of each other. This was quite unlike any other underground tomb seen in Rome. They are located in an area of the catacombs marked as 'X' in the Vatican's underground mapping system - hence the name The X Tombs.
This is Reger at his most accessible. In both pieces there is plenty of atmosphere and colour. The Hiller Variations is possibly his greatest and most satisfying orchestral work and is indispensable. Reger was a prolific composer, and it has to be said not all that came from his pen was necessarily memorable. However, the two works on this disc are vintage Reger. He lived his short life as fast as he composed his music. His is a special and unique sound-world which offers great rewards to those who take the time to explore it. Radiant playing from the Concertgebouw under Jarvi and sound to match.