Conductor and pianist James Levine is one of the powerhouse figures of the classical music scene today. As a child he undertook both piano and violin; he was so accomplished on the violin that at the age of ten he played Mendelssohn's second violin concerto at a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra youth concert. He studied piano at various summer music festivals before enrolling at New York's Juilliard School, where he took conducting courses with Jean Morel and continued piano studies with Rosina Lhevinne.
The soundtrack to director Ron Howard's 1995 blockbuster Apollo 13 effectively blends dialogue, actual audio clips from newscasts, classic songs, and portions of conductor James Horner's original score, creating a worthy aural companion. Included are songs from the period of the titular spacecraft's peril-fraught mission, such as the Young Rascals' "Groovin'," Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love," the Who's "I Can See for Miles," and a classy version of the oft-covered "Blue Moon" by the Mavericks (produced by Nick Lowe). The orchestrated score manages to capture the drama of the events in a manner that ranges from quietly stirring to sweepingly epic, with Eurythmic Annie Lennox adding her distinctive, ethereal vocal accompaniment to several of the cuts.
It comes as no surprise that, a year after Rampal's death, James Galway should dedicate a disc to him. After all, Galway has always cited the Frenchman as his true mentor - and it was with Rampal that Galway first spied a golden flute. The recording actually happened over a year before Rampal died but appropriately enough contains concertos by the French Classical composer François Devienne, of whose music Rampal was a noted interpreter.
Here's a Symphony of Psalms that successfully captures the spirit and letter of the work–reverence, jubilation, and celebration, as well as specifics of orchestral color and texture. Boys' voices–supposedly Stravinsky's original choice–contribute their share to the bright choral timbre, an effect that works very well. We also get first-rate performances of the Mass and the rarely recorded Canticum sacrum.