|Dreamin Up||E.L. Pace||2:49|
|Dream Anadarko||E.L. Pace||3:28|
|Pretty Little Statues||E.L. Pace||3:27|
|Children of the Night||E.L. Pace||3:20|
|Be a Kid||E.L. Pace||4:27|
|Dreams Are a Wish||E.L. Pace||3:22|
|I Wonder||E.L. Pace||5:55|
It's not too often anymore that we get a world premiere recording of a work by a composer as well-known and widely performed as Hindemith. The circumstances surrounding the recording as well as the artist make this album a real find. Composed in 1921 for wealthy pianist Paul Wittgenstein, Hindemith's Klaviermusik mit Orchestra, Op. 29, was one of several compositions for left-hand only that Wittgenstein commissioned from the likes of Britten, Prokofiev, and Ravel after losing his right arm in WWI. Unlike these other compositions, Wittgenstein never performed Hindemith's piece, did not allow others to perform it, and did not allow it to be published. Only after several machinations following his death was the work finally available in 2002. This Ondine album features legendary pianist Leon Fleisher, who himself lost the use of his right hand for some four decades, with Christoph Eschenbach leading the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Why Wittgenstein never performed this piece is even more a mystery after hearing it; Wittgenstein must have known what Hindemith's music was like, and there are no real departures from the type of music Hindemith was composing at the time.
Fleisher's performance is exactly what one might expect: electrifying. His earlier mastery of the other works for piano left hand make him the perfect performer for this composition. He brings forth an abundance of engaging rhythmic diversity, textural change, and musical energy. The students of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra do honor to Hindemith and Fleisher in their own careful attention to detail. The album also includes Dvorák's Ninth Symphony. While well-played, it certainly offers nothing new or innovative and is largely just filler compared to the importance and interest surrounding the Hindemith.
Essentially a solo project for Spinning Jennies frontman Jeff Shelton, the Well Wishers' Twenty-Four Seven is a blissed-out smack of honey that's fueled by late-summer sunsets and misguided road trips. Power pop, while disposable, is hard to throw away when it sounds this good. From the very first lick it's evident that Shelton knows how to sink a hook into you.
"See for the First Time" delivers the same kind of instantly gratifying melody that made Brendan Benson's "Tiny Spark" such a pop underground hit -- both songs celebrate the heavy guitar/analog synth interplay that the Cars perfected 20 years ago. Vocally, Shelton has the kind of fluid, vibrato-less croon that so many singers yearn for, so comparisons to Andy Partridge are inevitable, but the punchy production and tube-blown sound of tracks like "Sex & the Suburbs" and "Bustin Up" owe more to Cheap Trick and the Posies than they do to XTC. He breaks out of the mold occasionally with wistful ballads ("Dead Again") and country-rockers ("Something on Your Mind"), but rarely deviates from the pool of hummable melodies and hooks that has so obviously influenced him since his first Kiss record. There's honestly not a bad song on the album, and despite the occasional detour into teeth-rotting lyrics like "Drop me a note/Send me a line/Bring me good wishes from my lonely, funny valentine," the joy that went into making these delicious morsels is evident throughout, resulting in a great collection of songs to make out, break up, and get nasty in the back of an El Camino to.
As its title suggests, Die Große Weihnachtsparty (The Big Christmas Party) is a Christmas-themed album on which Matthias Reim covers several seasonal classics in his trademark schlager rock fashion -- including "Oh, du Fröhliche," "Jingle Bells", "Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling," and "Oh Tannenbaum." The album also features a German-language cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas" (called "Letzte Weihnacht") with lyrics by Reim and Joachim Horn-Bernges, and a new song written by Reim himself ("Wo Bleibt der Schnee").