The dystopian Seattle of The Last of Us 2 is a vision of the Pacific-Northwest unlike anything witnessed in the pages of Lonely Planet. The cordyceps fungus has lain waste to a city flooded by busted waterways and overgrown with foliage, which only serves to camouflage its diseased population. Rusted campervans share blocked highways with abandoned tanks and the detritus of a guerrilla conflict that is dysfunctional, desperate and coming to get you.
But amid the chaos of this beautiful apocalypse there are scraps from the past and connections with a vanished life that help to build the humane core running through Naughty Dog's universally lauded new blockbuster. Here, for example, you will find the Valiant Music Shop. Scavenge beyond the corroded synths and warped vinyl to discover an acoustic guitar, where Ellie can practice her newfound craft and, even, strum the chords of A-ha's Take On Me.
Indeed, for all the accompanying headlines around character bloodlust, crunch culture and LGBTQ+ themes, music plays a decisive role. It's there in the unblinking devotion of Joel's Future Days Pearl Jam cover, Ellie's reworking of New Order's True Faith – with its bullseye refrain of "My morning sun is the drug that brings me near. To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear" – and also, of course, in the soundtrack of Gustavo Santaolalla.
Like The Last of Us, the overarching tone of this immersive experience is set by the Argentinian composer, who feels as integral as any component in realizing the bleak heart and wilderness soul of these debased environments. Santaolalla, who won Oscars for his Brokeback Mountain and Babel soundtracks, sees clear parallels in his methods across cinema and gaming.
(Image credit: Naughty Dog/Sony)
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The cellist, made famous for performing at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding, has returned to a socially distanced stage. Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been spending lockdown live streaming concerts with his six siblings from their home in Nottingham. Now he's stepping onto a larger stage once more for the Philharmonia Orchestra summer session series.\
Mason recently released an original composition entitled, "Melody." Written for solo cello, on Decca Classics, and having just celebrated his 21st birthday, Sheku is happy to mark the occasion with his own work, Sheku says: "I wrote this tune a while back, inspired by folk music I love listening to. I never intended to release it but felt now would be a good time to share it. I hope it might encourage people to try something new and express their creativity during this difficult time."
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Piano legend Ludovico Einaudi has released a brand-new album of 12 tracks, which is now available on all major streaming platforms. The Italian recorded this new release at home on his own upright piano during the Covid-19 lockdown in Italy. Einaudi designed the artwork himself. During the lockdown, he was regularly hosting live online performances for his thousands of fans, and it was the experience of these self-broadcasts that inspired him to create this album.
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Singer and comedienne, Liza Pulman has teamed up with the legendary million-selling German artist, Max Raabe to duet on his song, Willst Du Bei Mir Bleiben (Will You Stay Beside Me).
The song, taken from his 2018 award-winning album Der Perfekte Moment, has been re-interpreted into an intimate and achingly beautiful duet; with two unique voices that marry together in perfect harmony. With shades of the smoky Parisienne feel of a Jacques Loussier arrangement.
The track also features both the internationally acclaimed classical pianist Simon Lepper and the highly sought-after jazz drummer, Ian Thomas and was produced at Real World Studios by the veteran producer Chris Porter. It is a song that will stay with you from the very first moment you hear it.
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Cinematic legend John Williams made his historic debut with the Vienna Philharmonic earlier this year, conducting the orchestra in his most iconic scores in the world-famous Golden Hall of Vienna's Musikverein. Joining him on stage was virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter, who played some of the violin arrangements he had written specially for her, including the magical ‘Hedwig's Theme'.
We also heard a spectacular rendition by the Vienna Phil of ‘Flight to Neverland' from Hook (watch here) and the formidable ‘Imperial March' (watch here ). Williams described leading one of the world's finest orchestras as "one of the greatest honours of my life", adding: "I treasure this moment." The magnificent show will be streamed online, thanks to DG Stage.
Here's how to watch John Williams and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter's full concert of film favourites with the Vienna Philharmonic at the world-famous Golden Hall of Vienna's Musikverein tonight at 7pm BST (8pm CEST) here.
Classical radio is preserved in America on a small island in public broadcasting. So stations dedicated to classical have the responsibility, if not the mission, to continually refine and improve their music service. Success is in the details, and some straightforward tweaks might make your sound more appealing. It is not easy stepping back from your enterprise to apply original ideas or reconsider old ones. Enter a fresh set of ears.
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Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, at 25, has already made a strong impression in the world of Baroque opera and beyond, with his powerful yet supple voice. The American countertenor, who has made several recordings (including contemporary music, such as by Kenneth Fuchs), specializes in 18th-century music when the male singer known as the Castrato reigned supreme. Nowadays a specially-developed voice technique, countertenors are prominent parts of productions such as in Handel's Saul, recorded recently by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan. Mr. Cohen shares some great stories about his experiences singing onstage, the history of countertenors, and his almost-Portland debut in "Bazajet" before the pandemic brought that opportunity to a standstill.
All Classical Portland Host John Pitman shares his interview, along with selections featuring this prominent young singer. LISTEN
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.
"I love these songs", says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: "Sometimes when we play it's like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together."
Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. "What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'" Scofield says. "He's a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard." The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: "These two giants bring out the best in me."
Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist, band leader and composer, John Scofield is set to release his new album, Combo 66, marking his 66th birthday, on September 28 via Verve Records. The album, which features long-time drummer Bill Stewart, bassist Vincente Archer and pianist/organist Gerald Clayton, combines jazz with genre-defying elements, allowing Scofield to find new modes of expression.
Coming off a Grammy win earlier this year for his last album, Past Present, John Scofield has been largely in the spotlight over the last year, sitting in the with The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, gracing the cover of Downbeat and garnering the attention of NPR. His impressive 40-plus-year career has seen Scofield masterfully tackle multiple genres as well as several eclectic collaborations with everyone from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, to Government Mule and Medeski, Martin & Wood, not to mention his own groups.
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John Scofield updates his early-'90s quartet with drummer Bill Stewart and saxophonist Joe Lovano by recruiting bassist Larry Grenadier for his fetching, appropriately titled impulse! debut, Past Present. Between 1990 and 1992, the celebrated guitarist released three well-received discs – Meant to Be, Time on My Hands and What We Do – for the Blue Note label as the John Scofield Quartet. On those records, either Marc Johnson or Dennis Irwin played bass. Nevertheless, Grenadier also has history playing with Scofielld; he toured with Scofield in support of the 1996 disc, Quiet.
The nine exciting tunes Scofield penned on Past Present also reflects his philosophy on playing jazz music. He stresses the importance of being knowledgeable of the music's deep, complex roots while simultaneously being spontaneous and in the moment while performing it. For an artist with such a multifaceted discography as Scofield's, getting to the root of jazz means channeling the blues, as demonstrated on the disc's closing, titled-track.
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Guitarist John Scofield is comfortable in any setting – whether it be jazz, blues or rock – as he demonstrates on his latest recording, Überjam Deux, on Decca/Emarcy. Überjam Deux has been a decade in the works, following 2002's Grammy-nominated Überjam; not that Scofield has been inactive in the interim, far from it. There have been seven John Scofield albums in the intervening years, as well as five others on which he is a co-leader on the project. His last Decca/Emarcy release was A Moment's Peace (2011), a luxurious album of ballads – the polar opposite of Überjam Deux. His uncanny ability to drift between various styles of music with fluency, virtuosity and sincerity is rare.
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