Dag Wirén: String Quartets Nos. 2-5

The CD notes talk about the “tapestry of drama” of Dag Wirén’s work and it’s a good phrase; this is expressive music that is tightly woven and has something of a flourish to it, though it’s a touch restrained. Wirén, born in 1905, studied at the Stockholm Conservatory from 1926 to 1931, coming into contact […]

Mark Stroppa: Space

The release notes on this make it clear this is modern music: Stroppa “views composition as musical research” and is “constantly aware of the dual nature of artistic thought, the discourse about the thought and the thought itself”. On this release, the Ensemble KNM Berlin “explores the topological qualities of the sound worlds” it says. […]

Graciela Jiménez: Solo Piano Works

Last week we reviewed the excellent album by Mariko Terashi (Piano); this week it’s another good piano programme, though different. Argentinian pianist and composer Graciela Jiménez is inspired by the landscape and folk melodies of her native country, say the sleeve notes, and this is a welcome introduction to her work. Without resorting to nationalistic […]

Tea Street Band: Frequency

  The Press release for this claims the band follows in the wake of “tunefully idiosyncratic” Liverpool bands like The Coral (partly true) and are closer to artists such as Tunng (not really). The partial truth is that they are tuneful but it’s not really idiosyncratic and Tunng would not readily spring to mind — […]

Estrons: You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough

This is billed as punk but it’s somewhere between indie — proper early indie, when it was an approach and not a genre — and rock. If they could be accused of lacking the genuine feel it’s because they can play their instruments far too well (“The Damned can play three chords, The Adverts can […]

Daniil Shafran Bach: Six Suites For Cello

This is a re-issue but still sounds great: Bach played by a perfectionist who believed in bringing out the emotion in music rather than worrying about the technical. Obviously, he had to be really good to do that. Shafran was born in 1923, the son of the principal cellist of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra; his […]

Niccolò Paganini: Works for Violin and Orchestra

This CD features a world première recording of the original versions of three works by Paganini: Le Streghe — described as a turning point in his career by the sleeve notes — Non più mesta and I Palpiti. A performance of Le Streghe in 1813 in Milan launched Paganini’s career. The “premier recording” line is […]

The Trials of Cato: Hide and Hair

If you like folk and you’ve not heard of The Trials of Cato, we suspect this will change before the year is out. They produce folk that is recognisably traditional, with the commercial mass-appeal of Seth Lakeman and the musical prowess of a shredding metal guitarist. The people who don’t like this will probably be […]

Twenty One Pilots: Trench

Twenty One Pilots are one of those bands who passed us by, but turn out to be massive. We thought they were emo/rock and the first track, Jumpsuit, did not dissuade, with its heavy bass and touch of screaming towards the end. Track two Levitate takes it off in a different direction with fast rapping […]

Calendar Girls The Musical

  (Photo: John Swannell). Extraordinary tales about ordinary people make the very best stories and Calendar Girls The Musical is no exception. Showing at Hanley’s Regent Theatre this week, the show shines a light on the ubiquitous story of a group of WI members who bravely bared all for a fundraising calendar in memory of […]