RECORDS: NEW RELEASES
Sunday 25 February 1996
The Style Council: Collection (Polydor, CD/ LP/tape). The time is right for a Style Council revival. Brit-winner Paul Weller is trendy again; his defunct band are so untrendy that, like Burt Bacharach and Abba, they have passed through the kitsch zone and landed in a parallel universe where it is perversely cool to pretend you were always a fan. Be warned. From the high, glossy brass, to the ping of the synth bass and the cooing of the backing vocals, the Style Council are as Eighties as a wine bar. And ask yourself this: should stern political lyrics be associating with frothy, Spanish-holiday jazz? At their best, the Style Council played some of Weller's most vulnerable ballads and displayed a relaxed, feminine side that he now keeps well hidden. At their worst they were, in three words, Hue and Cry. NB
Richard Strauss: Capriccio. Te Kanawa, Hagegard, Heilmann, Bar, von Halem, Fassbaender. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestracon/Ulf Schirmer (Decca, 2 CDs). A poet and composer vie for the hand of opera: who will win? Strauss's last stage work is a summation of his art, or a sweet and scented waste of time, depending on your taste. Whatever: the music glows nicely, from opening sextet to shimmering moonlit finale, with the Vienna Philharmonic producing a sound of automatic, effortless beauty. Decca's cast is outstanding: the poet Olivier (Olaf Bar) unusually characterful and passionate, the actress Clairon (Brigitte Fassbaender) an irritatingly sassy grande dame. Only the Countess Strauss's last great soprano role needs something extra: Dame Kiri's purling tones just don't purl enough. Dermot Clinch
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