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Music

February 22, 2003

New world albums
BOUBACAR TRAORE
I’ll Sing For You

(Marabi)

BACK IN the Sixties, Traoré was famous in Mali as a singer, a guitarist and as a footballer. Then he disappeared before being rediscovered at the end of the Eighties. More recently, a French film-maker took him back to Mali and this is the soundtrack to the documentary. Traoré has a vigorous African blues style. These recordings are rough and raw — but therein lies their charm. (Rating: 3/5) NW

GEORGE JACKSON
George Jackson in Muscle Shoals
(Grapevine)

JACKSON WAS a composer of stunning soul ballads during the Sixties and Seventies whose own records, though small in number, showed him to be a gifted vocalist as well. Now a newly unearthed collection of demo tracks by the Muscles Shoals-based songwriter reveals the depth of both talents. These 20 songs put him up there with the likes of Al Green as a laureate of the motel bedroom. (Rating: 4/5) John Clarke

QUARTETTO DAVID
Music For String Quartet

(BIS)

TWO OF the pieces on this CD are well known. There is Verdi’s masterly string quartet, a miniature drama in four scenes complete with a wonderful tenor aria; and Puccini’s Chrysanthemums, a tearjerker so artfully made that it keeps its shine. They are wonderfully played by this Italian quartet, which brings a vocal, speaking quality to the pieces. Their sound is dramatic, but in an intimate way, like a quartet of madrigal singers (that may be just the clichéd remark one would expect an English critic to make about an Italian quartet, but it is true). Also on the CD are some exquisite short pieces by Puccini, including a selection of impeccably crafted fugues and a gypsy-flavoured scherzo. (Rating: 4/5) IH

ZEHETMAIR QUARTET
Schumann Quartets Nos 1 & 3

(ECM)

SCHUMANN’S STRING quartets occupy a somewhat marginal place in the quartet repertoire. Listening to this CD, I wondered why. The level of invention is amazing, and for a man so wedded to the piano Schumann handled the medium with tremendous assurance. But the vividness of the music owes much to these electrifying performances. This quartet produces just the right emotional climate of fluttering, yearning expressivity that the pieces need. And they can be fiery when needed. The finale of the first quartet was amazingly impressive, changing from a virtuoso moto perpetuo to a hushed nostalgia and back again. The recording is clear, but soft and roomy in the inimitable ECM manner. (Rating: 4/5) IH

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  ALSO IN THIS SECTION
  Folk choice

  New world albums

  Concerts

  Essentials: Five recent albums you should own

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