by Michael Bowen and Mike Corrigan & r & Kurt Weill & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941.457327859 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Symphonies 1-2 & lt;/a & **** & r & There's more to Kurt Weill than The Threepenny Opera. This Naxos release records Weill's best work both from his early-career European art music, the Symphony No. 2 (1934), and from what was arguably his best work for Broadway, Lady in the Dark (1941).
In the Second Symphony, a jagged five-note violin intro and lonely trumpet introduce an energetic opening movement. In the Largo, horns and strings compete, ranging from mock-solemn to genuinely mournful. In the final Allegro vivace, Weill evokes a playful toy band, then reprises the far-off trumpet before a frantic finish.
Weill had to be innovative for a psychoanalytic musical about unlocking a young woman's inhibitions like Lady in the Dark, yet still manages to evoke inspirations from circus tunes to Tchaikovsky, and from boulevard music to Gershwin and Ravel (as in the lush string melody that emerges from the Bolero drum beat in "This Is New").
Marin Alsop also leads the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the less accomplished First Symphony. -- Michael Bowen
The New Pornographers & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941.457058449 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Twin Cinema & lt;/a & **** & r & I suppose it was inevitable that the New Pornographers' follow-up to the band's incredible, critically praised indie-pop blast of 2003, Electric Version, would be something of a comedown, if not a minor letdown. Sure enough, two years and a pair of solo releases by singer-songwriter A.C. Newman and vocalist Neko Case later, Twin Cinema (Matador) staggers slightly from a one-two combination of high expectations and a discernible decline in fervor. It finds the band playing it relatively safe, poking around in familiar soundscapes.
But with that minor criticism out of the way, let it be known that this stuff still buries most of what currently passes for smart, engaging and inspiring songcraft. The melodies on Twin Cinema are characteristically well constructed and fresh, the Newman-Case harmonies are as appealing as ever (check out "The Bleeding Heart Show"), and the thoughtful, clever lyrics never pander. It's an invigorating and generally upbeat set, and nearly everything fans of the New Pornographers have come to expect from this extremely talented ensemble. -- Mike Corrigan