RECORDS

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Fugees: The Score (Sony CD/ LP/tape). Out for a while but yet to get the attention it deserves, this is the most original and seductive rap album in at least an aeon. As well as staking out their own lyrical territory - apocalyptic Burger King career-progression lament "The Mask", devastating anti rappers-as-actors tirade "Cowboys" - New Jersey threesome Pres, Lauryn and Wyclef fashion vital new variations on such classic hip- hop themes as the plea for improved standards of police discipline ("The Beast") and even the all-the-evidence- suggests-we-are-probably- better-at-rapping-than-everybody-else number ("How Many Mics"). Blending the verbal dexterity of De La Soul with the untamed vivacity of the best Fifties R&B; at a breath less than 78 minutes, this record is not a moment too long. Ben Thompson

Leif Ove Andsnes: Nielsen Piano Pieces (Virgin CD). The number of Carl Nielsen symphony cycles on disc proves how deeply Denmark's greatest composer has been absorbed into mainstream orchestral repertoire; but this release is exactly what was needed to shed some light on the piano works. If you don't know them, be prepared to be amazed - not only by their haunting lyric beauty but by their power, and by the idiosyncratic way Nielsen's writing combines conservative craft with radical forward- thinking. The Chaconne and the Opus 45 Suite quite simply outclass anything of their kind ever produced from the Nordic countries; and Andnes really has the measure of them. These performances are all superb; and make the most persuasive advocacy for Nielsen's genius I've come across in a long time.

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