With his seven symphonies the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius marks a high point in the symphonic repertoire of the 20th century. The music evokes the ghostliness of the Finnish landscape, carries an inner strength and depth and proves itself full of technical fi nesse that still poses a challenge for both conductors and performers. For Sibelius “a symphony is not a ‘composition’ in the ordinary sense. Rather, it is a declaration of faith at different stages of one’s life.”
Paramax Films captured the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at its resident venue of Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv in July 2015 conducted by Zubin Mehta and starring Georgian concert pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. The film showcases a performance of the piano’s most famous orchestral repertoire; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 and Liszt’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No 2 with its waves of sound.
This seeks to be a good-time record while maintaining the musical intelligence that listeners should expect from Anderson. "Putting the cookies on a lower shelf" can be dangerous if the artists are too busy worrying about public taste to do any real cooking, but it's obvious from the start that the players (Amina Claudine Myers, organ, piano; Jerome Harris, guitar; Lonnie Plaxico, bass; Tommy Campbell, drums) are having a blast themselves. I can't imagine any complaints about anyone's contributions instrumentally. The rhythm team swings, Anderson sounds just great, Myers and Harris shine throughout, and the trombone-organ-guitar ensembles are downright dangerous. The four vocal tracks feature Myers and Anderson solo and in tandem: gutsy, extroverted performances of intelligent lyrics by Jackie Raven. This music is hard to describe but it's natural and infectious, somewhat comparable to Mose Allison, but hotter.