Here's a piece you don't often hear performed in concert: Mozart's Divertimento in B flat major, K. 254 (aka, his Piano Trio No. 1). While the other five works in the same form are performed frequently by virtue of their later date of composition, the early Trio No. 1 is not only rarely performed in concert, it's usually recorded only in context of all the other trios. And so it is here: Trio No. 1 leads off this 2007 Hyperion disc by England's Florestan Trio, and, naturally, it is followed by two later trios – No. 2 in G major, K. 496, and No. 5 in C major, K. 548.
Another piece of topical hard rock from Manfred Mann's Earth Band and, as before, listenable even to those without a serious bone in their bodies, by virtue of the playing. Moving between hard rock and British blues influences (with a special debt to Cream on the opening cut, "Give Me the Good Earth") and progressive rock, the quartet cuts a mean swathe across the sonic landscape, between Mick Rogers' soaring guitar solos and Manfred Mann's inimitable synthesizer work. Some of the less ambitious cuts, such as "I'll Be Gone," are relatively dispensable, but when these guys start reaching, as on "Earth Hymn," that's when their best musical instincts take hold, and the results are always worth hearing…
Like a great, mysterious nebula, the dazzling Missa Salisburgensis arches over the world of polychoral music by virtue of the exceptional complexity and richness of its means, which are deployed to create a unique expression in sound and space, symbolising with extraordinary exuberance and efficiency all the strength and grandeur of divine power, political and religious power. Shrouded in mystery and regarded by specialists as the Everest of polychoral compositions, this work was discovered by a Salzburg grocer in 1870. At first it was mistakenly attributed to the composer Orazio Benevoli, but now, as Professor Ernst Hintermaier explains (see his accompanying commentary), it is unanimously considered to be among the masterpieces of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, one of the greatest and most talented Austrian composers of the Baroque period.
Fred Neil's two classic Elektra records albums assembled together on one CD, with new biographical notes supported by lots of photos, too. The CD is slightly uneven as a listening experience, mostly by virtue of the songs off of Tear Down the Walls, a hybrid work that has moments of inspired, heavyweight brilliance from Neil, compromised by the lighter-textured voice of Vince Martin, who almost always seems like he's trying hard to keep up with Neil and measure up to what his partner is doing. There are some brilliant songs, as the two slip into a serious blues groove on "Weary Blues"; soar together on the exultant, extended duet of "Baby" (which plays like an Indian raga with vocals); the darker-toned "Morning Dew"; and the driving, crunchy "Linin' Track," which leads into "Wild Child in a World of Trouble."