Giya Kancheli - Symphonies No. 6 & No. 7 "Epilogue" (Sony Classical): This recording is part of Sony Classical's new "St. Petersburg Classics" line, which aims to give exposure to top artists of the former Soviet Union. Featured here is Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, with Jansug Kakhidze conducting the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra. The recording swings sharply between pianissimo and fortissimo dynamics, giving it a live-concert feel. Kancheli's unrelentingly dissonant Symphony No. 6 leaves listeners with little resolution; but his Symphony No. 7 "Epilogue," here in its world premiere recording, beautifully melds modern dissonance with the more-familiar sounds of choral works and even big-band harmonies.
- Judy Nichols
Bjork - Post (Elektra):The former lead singer of the Sugarcubes weighs in with her second solo album, which showcases her ethereal voice to stunning effect. Working all over the map stylistically, from the ambient techno rhythms of cuts such as "Army of Me," the first single, to the big-band jazziness of "It's Oh So Quiet" (originally recorded by Betty Hutton), Bjork, in collaboration with such current hot artists as Tricky and Massive Attack, delivers an album that is as compelling as it is weird.
- Frank Scheck
Jack McDuff - The Heatin' System (Concord): Jack McDuff, one of the early practitioners of jazz organ, is a beneficiary of the renewed popularity of the Hammond B-3 in '90s jazz. McDuff employs three outstanding musicians: alto saxophonist Andrew Beals, tenor sax player Jery Weldon, and flutist Dick Oatts, all of whom contribute mightily to this disc's festive feeling. The title tune, "The Heatin' System," is an uptempo romp with brief solos. "In a Sentimental Mood" showcases Beals's lyrical alto in duet with McDuff. Guitarist John Hart and drummer Rudolph Petschauer are solid.
- Dick Bogle