Jóhann Jóhannsson — Arrival (Deutsche Grammophone)

The presses had barely cooled when Jóhann Jóhannsson dropped his second album for Deutsche Grammophone, his score to the science-fiction suspense drama Arrival. If not as immediately attractive as Orphee, the dronier tracks on that album model the brew from which much of this music is made.  

For Jóhannsson, especially where this film score is concerned, drone has become more than just a point of entry; it determines the course of the music, each drone is replete with microdetails that shape the way the sounds unfold around and through it. “Hazmat,” one of this album’s most successful tracks, transfers the drone to the middle and upper registers, adorning it with infinitesimal dynamic changes, expanding microtonal trills, rumbling electronic sweeps and sustains. Everything bolsters the percussive string effects and wide vibrato that infect the pitch spectrum like a virus, portending the track’s bassy eruption and distorted decay. It is a stunning display of aleatoric compositional prowess, and the recording captures every detail with chilling visceral effect.

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Harpsichord Cadenza from Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto
Andreas Staier, Musica Antiqua Köln & Reinhard Goebel
Harpsichord Cadenza from Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto

The harpsichord cadenza in the first movement of J.S. Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Performed by Andreas Staier; accompanied by Musica Antiqua Köln and Reinhard Goebel. 

Recording by Archiv Produktion, under Deutsche Grammophon.

Rufus Wainwright announces new Shakespeare inspired album

Rufus Wainwright celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in typically dramatic fashion by releasing a unique collection of nine sonnets in stunning performances by both actors and vocalists. Set for release on 22 April on Deutsche Grammophon, it also marks the first collaboration between Rufus and Marius de Vries since they co-produced the epic Want albums.

The performers on this new recording include vocalists Florence Welch, Martha Wainwright, Anna Prohaska and, of course, Rufus himself, as well as actors Siân Phillips, Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher and William Shatner.