FOR THE RECORD
It’s been a long time coming. But Audra McDonald’s first solo album in seven years—Go Back Home (Nonesuch)—is here. After four seasons spent in Los Angeles playing Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit medical drama Private Practice, the acclaimed singer and actress returned to New York and Broadway last year, winning her fifth Tony for her role in Porgy and Bess. With Go Back Home, the Grammy Award-winning soprano, whose voice Stephen Sondheim has hailed as “one of the glories of the American theater,” makes her highly anticipated return to recording, presenting her most personal album to date.
Many of the selections on Go Back Home are by composers with whom McDonald has long been associated (Guettel, LaChiusa, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Sondheim, among others), while some songs, including the Kander and Ebb title track, are by names that are relatively new to her repertoire. In addition, McDonald continues her tradition of championing works by an emerging generation of composers, represented on this recording by Adam Gwon, Heisler and Goldrich, and Will Reynolds.
Sony proves it’s a class act with the release of several nifty classical CDs. Byron Janis: The Complete RCA Collection celebrates the legendary pianist Byron Janis’ 85th birthday with the release of this box set that brings together his entire discography on RCA for the first time with no fewer than seven “first on CD” releases. Newly remastered from original sources, the recordings are presented in facsimile sleeves and labels corresponding to the original LP releases. Many recordings make their first appearance on CD, including a previously unpublished version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. An enclosed booklet offers an essay by Richard Dyer based upon his interviews with Janis, numerous unpublished vintage photographs and full discographical information.
David Greilsammer: Mozart In-Between, the intriguing new CD by the young pianist and conductor, goes on a fascinating voyage through the musical world of the young Mozart, shedding new light on a selection of spirited masterpieces. Performing on this release as both pianist and conductor, Greilsammer directs his ensemble L’Orchestre de Chambre de Genève. The repertoire includes Mozart’s Symphony No.23 and his Jeunehomme Piano Concerto, No.9, for which Greilsammer has written his own cadenzas.
Jan Vogler: The Cello Suits has added to his award-winning discography with the much-anticipated release of this CD. Recorded on his recently acquired 1707-1710 Stradivarius ‘Ex Castelbarco/Fau’ cello, “the Strad is a font of new inspiration and new sounds, according to Jan, offering a very strong and mature voice, incredible clarity, and an unlimited variety of colors.”
DVD QUICK PICKS
Harmless prank or violent revenge? Three high school students, sick of living in fear of bullies, plan the ultimate payback. But when their prank goes way too far, they come to realize that getting even can have deadly consequences. Packed with unpredictable twists and turns, the cutting-edge thriller Prank (Image Entertainment) pulls no punches and delivers a shocking conclusion you’ll never forget. Just remember…no matter how sweet revenge might taste, there’s always a price to pay.
PBS Distribution continues its must-have DVDs with Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers. Spied upon by MI19 in a bugging operation of unprecedented scale and cunning–microphones were embedded in walls, lamps, behind mirrors, in fireplaces, even outdoors in trees on the English country estates where these conversations between generals and soldiers were secretly recorded–4,000 German prisoners of war revealed their inner thoughts about the Third Reich and let slip military secrets that helped the Allies win WWII. Based on groundbreaking research conducted by German historian Professor Sönke Nietzel, the film tells the story of how those conversations were recorded and how they now reveal, in more shocking detail than ever before, the hearts and minds of the German fighter at that time.
In total, more than 100,000 hours of these secret recordings were made. Only now have they all been declassified, researched and cross referenced. They represent a startling new body of evidence with which to revisit events of the war and they show the political divisions between those top generals who supported the Nazi ideology and those that did not. They also demonstrate the complicity of the rank-and-file soldiers in taking part in Nazi war crimes.
Now, 60 years later, the chilling and totally uncensored thoughts of the Nazi elite will be heard. The documentary includes intense, full-dialogue dramatic reconstructions that use the verbatim transcripts of these bugged conversations to reveal the dark heart of the Nazi regime. Hearing these shocking conversations will be like taking a time machine back into the psyche of Hitler’s Germany.
Tosca: Live in Rome (Kultur), starring Placido Domingo, features Puccini’s superbly dramatic opera was recorded in Rome in the exact locations and at the precise times of day as Puccini had written into his score. The action opens in Rome’s beautiful 16th-century church of Sant’Andreadella Valle, where Cavaradossi (Domingo) is innocently painting, moves to the Farnese Palace where Tosca (Catherine Malfitano) dramatically stabs the lustful Scarpia (Ruggero Raimondi), and finally to the battlements of the Castle Sant’Angelo at dawn the following day where Cavaradossi is cruelly killed, and Tosca takes her own life. Kudos all around!