Author

Scott D. Paulin

It may be a middlebrow cocktail-party soundtrack, but Ma’s Brazilian journey has an integrity rare in classical crossover. The cellist ventures an appealingly diverse program, from Villa-Lobos’ classical elegance to Jobim’s bossa nova, but wisely avoids any ”Girl From Ipanema” cliches. His stellar collaborators lend an authentic flair, and even if his refined tone promotes a gentility over passion, the end results are reliably enchanting.

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Various Artists Die Dreigroschenoper: Berlin 1930 (Teldec) Renowned for her acidic touch in Weimar cabaret music, Lemper strives for versatility and broader pop appeal on But One Day…. The chanteuse smolders in Piazzolla tangos and wrenching Brel chansons, but her self-penned numbers don’t ignite, and the liberties she takes with classic Kurt Weill songs are less jazzy than jarring. For genuine Weill, look no further than Lotte Lenya and comrades in the original 1930 Dreigroschen-oper (Threepenny Opera) recording.

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Composing for films may be Glass’ true niche, his unobtrusive style working as neutral backdrop to nearly any cinematic scenario. His music for the adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel achieves a balance of melancholy and serenity that’s wholly appropriate, though the scoring for solo piano and strings invites unfavorable comparisons with Michael Nyman’s equally repetitive but more characterful music from The Piano.

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La Boheme was one of many sources lurking behind Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and its ”Bohemian ideals,” and the director’s affection for the tear-jerking opera shines through in this souvenir of highlights from his current staging. The three alternating casts, sampled in turn, are always adequate and occasionally exquisite (especially Ekaterina Solovyeva’s Mimi). If this isn’t a first choice among recordings, it approaches the intensity of passion that opera at its best embodies.

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Once lumped with the minimalists, Adams retains that style’s rhythmic drive while now painting ever larger and more varied canvases. His most recent orchestral score makes an arcane poetic allusion to Schiller in its title but offers an accessible and often exciting blend of drama, emotion, and striking sonic colors. Not a radical composer, Adams is rather a master at infusing traditional forms with fresh life, relevance, and power.

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This promising young tenor was recently rushed to New York as a replacement for Pavarotti, and his debut recital recording arrives while the ”Fourth Tenor” buzz still hovers around him. In a set of warhorse arias, Licitra reveals a powerful voice that sounds best at full throttle. His Puccini is forceful but generic; more impressive are the heroic Verdi numbers, in which he produces real vocal and dramatic thrills that bode well for a major career.

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Minority Report

Williams’ latest for Spielberg serves the movie’s hybrid of sci-fi and noir, often in a way that’s mildly reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s music for Hitchcock: The creepy tone clusters hover dissonantly, and the rhythms scurry hither and thither. It’s all crafted according to venerable film tradition, and yet it seems repetitive; worse, it lacks any cumulative punch. However effective this might be in a cinema, it’s underwhelming as independent listening.

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Few tenors have the technique, stamina, and emotional range required by a role like Siegfried in Richard Wagner’s Ring operas. Even fewer 61-year-old tenors still have the goods. But Domingo, recording these scenes from Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods for the first time, has reached a vocal summit, and with a superb supporting cast, he does glorious justice to some of Wagner’s most captivating music.

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