SOUND JUDGEMENT; THE LATEST ALBUM RELEASES RATED AND REVIEWED.
MATSUEV / MARIINSKY ORCHESTRA / GERGIEV: PROKOFIEV, RACHMANINOV ... .. DENIS Matsuev, with the Mariinksy Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, performed Prokofiev's second piano concerto when they visited Symphony Hall last year.
Matsuev was sensational in Prokofiev's ludicrously demanding hundred-notes-a-minute concerto, treating its pitfalls and hurdles with aristocratic disdain.
This live performance was made in St Petersburg and the recording is claustrophobically close with a boxy, airless acoustic that flatters neither pianist nor orchestra, diminishing the immense dynamic range Matsuev displayed in Birmingham.
In Rachmaninov's second piano concerto Matsuev is passionate and refreshingly quick, nearer to the composer's tempi than most, without loss of romance - but the orchestra sounds as if it were playing from 20 metres behind him. A listener's response will depend on how importantly they rate recorded balance.
Norman Stinchcombe ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF DEAD MAGIC ..... DEAD Magic, the fourth album by Swede Anna von Hausswolff, comes in at 47 minutes but comprises only five tracks, and was mainly recorded on the 20th-century organ at Copenhagen's Marmorkirken, one of the largest churches in Scandinavia.
However, this shouldn't put you off, because the result, augmented by fuzzy guitars and synthesisers, is actually very accessible.
Despite the overt goth stylings, von Hausswolff has a voice and melodic sensibility not too far removed from Lana Del Rey, so the doominess and sheer length of the songs are offset by earworm tunes.
UB40 FEATURING ALI, ASTRO AND MICKEY A REAL LABOUR OF LOVE ... .. HERE'S an album with bite, although perhaps more for what it stands for than its sound, which is as smooth and nostalgic as one would expect.
The breakaway trio - comprising of UB40's founding members Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue - has produced a continuation of their Labour of Love series, which included three albums released between 1983 and 1998, and completely ignores Labour Of Love IV, released in 2010 and fronted by Ali's estranged brother Duncan.
This collection of covers includes classics such as Stevie Wonder's A Place In The Sun and How Could I Leave by Dennis Brown. It's a strong compilation.