Not what I was expecting… microtonal singing, balalaikas, and an ocean of reverb

BaSa Gelmeyen Olmaz

by Bestekar Salihi – on the album “Liseli Sevdigim”

1ba0c012bf9cebda6381fb63f0213d0b3185cc4dFrom the bland, modern cover I was somehow expecting maybe some polite, contemporary jazz.

What I got was wild, wooly, deeply reverbed Turkish (I think, info in English on this artist proved hard to find — certainly he seems to be based in Turkey) balalaika pop, with the husky voiced singer weaving microtonal melodies through a wilderness of hissy, indistinct overdubs drowned in reverb…

That might not sound all that cool, I dunno. But I find it as oddly compelling as a taxi ride through the outskirts of Istanbul… in fact, this collection, for me, evokes an imagined transistor radio swinging by a hand strap from the mirror of such a taxi as the utterly exotic and strangely distant music sways in the listener’s mind.

On Google Music 


UK Dixieland from Harry Gold and His Pieces of Eight

There’ll be Some Changes Made

by Harry Gold and His Pieces of Eight – on the album “Parade of the Pieces”


Often energetic, always lovingly played, this instrumental and vocal swing and hot jazz collection from a top musician of the pre-war period of the 1930s in Britain, here with his own band, the Pieces of Eight, in the 10 tracks I listened to, often shows a winning, raw vibrancy, but on slower cuts sometimes seems just a big vague. There are some fine reed men dueling with the sax-wielding leader, as well. The best of this swings nicely and has some very tasty solo work from a variety of players.

A note: Forgotify had delivered me deep in the album, indicating someone had listened to the first 20 songs of the album; I listened to the remaining 8, and then the player wrapped back around to track number one, a vocal rendition of the hot-jazz classic, “Darktown Strutter’s Ball” with an un-credited (at least in this package) female vocalist. I have to say, without, I hope, being unkind to the vocalist in question, that it was not the best reading of the song I’ve heard. Since that track may be the first thing that the curious hear, here, I just thought I ought to catch up with that item.

The very next track, though, an eye-rolling, music hall style reading of “I Love of Mystery” — with some decidedly Spike Jonesian touches — was quite winning.

Heretofore unheard: a sensitive, thoughtful reading of Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: I. Allegro Moderato

by Elisabeth Westenholz – on the album “Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4”

The first movement of B’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major came up in Forgotify, seeming to suggest that a fellow-travelling classics lover had listened to all three movements of Concerto No. 2 (Can I do any less with No. 4? I’ll get back to my morning folk and Celtic harp mix later.)

Danish pianist Westenholz is well known in European chamber circles and on the concert festival scene. She’s received awards and grants including Music Critics price, Tagea Brandt travel grant, Gladsaxe Music Prize and the Swedish Gramophone Award. She’s accompanied here by the Collegium Musicum, under the direction of Michael Schønwandt

The recording is not one of those glitzy, flashy sounding, let’s wade into the orchestra with a bunch of mics, movie-soundtrack sounding things; rather it captures the piano from a respectful distance with the orchestra a bit more distant, but nicely balanced against the piano.

The piece requires both meticulous rhythmic precision as well as dynamic and rhythmic sensitivity. Ms Westenholz delivers on both counts, though she seems to pull perhaps just slightly short of the broad and powerful dynamic strokes in the crescendi some pianists might bring.

Or maybe she was saving herself for  the rest of the piece — Concerto No. 4 is about 36 minutes long. At any rate, it is a fine performance, sensitively rendered, accompanied by an excellent European orchestra under a conductor who knows how to frame the piano while letting Beethoven’s stormy love affair with the orchestra seethe beneath.