Where are you now and what can you see?
The pianist, composer Cedar Walton has been known to jazz audiences for over five decades, and is likely to be remembered as an exemplar for fellow musicians, rather than a populist hero. But his association with the group of Art Blakey, and a briefer one with John Coltrane, gave him the necessary background for a successful career as a bandleader in his own right.
'My mom can't play trumpet but I'd want her on it'
What a thrilling start to Jonathan Mills' penultimate International festival: the RSNO in excoriating form, the Festival Chorus, with beefed-up bass section, singing in stirring Russian and clearly-enunciated Latin, all with puppetmaster Valery Gergiev pulling their strings.
(ITNO / Columbia)
The soothing sound of a grand piano drifted across Taksim Square last night, bringing a welcome calm a day after violence rocked the area.
KT Tunstall's fourth album is by some distance her best, offering a series of deeply-felt musings on mortality, mercy and memory. Recorded at Howe Gelb's Wavelab Studio in Arizona in two sessions separated by a season – hence the different titles for the separate “sides” – it reflects her response to the death of her father, the first side's sensitive, reactions gradually supplanted by a new emotional light as her branches become strong enough to “play with the wind” and “carry the snow” again.
In 2011, Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra played two BBC Proms in one night. The first was a meticulously disciplined programme of Liszt and Mahler, the second a jamboree of party pieces and encores, selected by raffle from a list of some 200 works. Encores are the great disinhibitors of classical music and they have served Fischer and his orchestra well. Now 30 years old, the BFO can melt the cognoscenti with musical kitsch, compete with the finest in core symphonic repertoire, and deliver Beethoven with the transparency of period instruments. Whether this should all be attempted in one performance is another matter.
Few contemporary composers have tapped into the public consciousness quite as effectively as Ludovico Einaudi, his repetitive, wave-like compositions utilising the comforting reliability of minimalism while his melodies unerringly trigger warm emotional responses.
A toy glockenspiel given to him aged six fuelled his passion for the piano. It served him well – already he has played for the Prince of Monaco alongside Lulu.
Sam Beam's latest outing as Iron and Wine is a curious mixture of the fascinating and the frustrating. It's a more obviously welcoming album than its recent predecessors, with the gentle country-soul ambience of songs like “The Desert Babbler” recalling Lambchop in its tempering of soul influences with pedal steel and strings.
Gordon Stoker was the leader of the Jordanaires vocal group, who were billed alongside Elvis Presley on many of his hit records including "All Shook Up", "It's Now Or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight". Elvis went as far as telling them, "Let's face it, if it hadn't been for you guys, there might not have been a me."
Extraordinarily, in a career 22 albums long, this is the first live recording that Sparks have released – and it's typical of their quixotic charm that, despite being famous for the ambitious complexity of their arrangements, it should feature pared-down settings of one voice accompanied by just one keyboard.
Having begun to establish herself via YouTube, Valentina Lisitsa ambitiously chose to make the four Rachmaninov Piano Concertos her musical “calling card”, to which end she and her husband remortgaged their home, hired the LSO and Abbey Road, and recorded them at their own expense.
Little by little Maxim Vengerov is easing himself back into the mainstream, after injury and burn-out. His last Barbican foray - with a concerto - was marred by a loss of nerve at critical moments: this time he was going for broke with a chamber recital where, if anything went wrong, he would have nowhere to hide.