Sergei Rachmaninov's second piano concerto demands both a virtuoso pianist and a huge, supple orchestral sound. It gets both in this multichannel recording from Deutsche Grammophon, which pairs Lang Lang with a venerable Russian orchestra.
Isn't it a little odd to squeeze a whole symphony orchestra into a living room? The great thing about chamber music is that it's designed to be played in the home, correctly scaled to your personal space. It's best heard live, of course-but, if you can't invite musicians over for tea, the next best thing might be to feed your universal disc player this well-recorded pair of Beethoven chamber works.
MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) is a next-generation video codec (coder/decoder) that's about to change the face of digital television—slimming it down, enabling it to move into narrower channels, and probably changing how it looks. I can almost see your eyes glazing over: Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do.
Imagine the score for a 33-minute film noir with nonstop action. That's Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin in a nutshell, although it's actually a one-act dance suite. The story concerns three thugs who use a young woman as bait to rob a series of victims, culminating in the Mandarin. They murder him—but not before he consummates his passion for the girl. The plot had enough sex and violence to get it banned immediately upon its 1926 debut in Köln, Germany.
Even people who know nothing about Brazilian music recognize the urbane Latin syncopation of the bossa nova beat. The language, of course, is Portuguese, not Spanish. The key names in Brazilian pop music are Jobim and Gilberto; in orchestral and chamber music, Villa-Lobos. Arguably, the most alluring voice in Brazilian music today belongs to Rosa Passos, who partners with jazz bassist Ron Carter on this audiophile release.
A trembling flute figure drifts into the air and hangs there, sensuously falling and rising. It's one of the most celebrated moments in orchestral music, and the free, blissful, agile development that follows does not disappoint. Nor does Telarc's multichannel recording of this sumptuous work.
Flat-panel TVs—and the speakers that love to be with them—receive such obsessive attention from the press that you'd think all other forms of video display—and the speakers that love to be with them—had disappeared. Jamo has fed the trend with their remarkable 2F speaker system, which teams perfectly with a plasma display. But rear-projection sets are still around. In fact, with DLP-, LCD-, and CRT-based models to choose from, they're taking on slimmer shapes, waxing in both cool factor and diversity.