Influenced by dance, theater, and the fine arts, composer/clarinetist Louis Sclavis once again illustrates his increasing relevance to modern music thanks to this impressive 2002 effort. With his fifth outing for ECM Records, Sclavis continues his path of artistic excellence. This is a soundtrack for a recently exhumed French silent movie, though viewing the film shouldn't necessarily be a prerequisite for letting one's imagination delve into the visual aspects of this reconditioned antique. On this release, the clarinetist utilizes a dual string section to complement accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier's Parisian cabaret-type musings amid the quintet's shrewd instillation of movement.
The labels that are now gathered under the Universal Classics umbrella have a pretty impressive scorecard in the area of classical compilations. We've seen The Greatest Opera Show on Earth, The Yellow Guide: Classical Music, Best of the Millennium, and now there's The No. 1 Opera Album. But that's no surprise, since Universal has some of the finest interpreters in its catalogue to draw from. This two-CD set (at the price of one), for example, brings together the likes of Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, and many more. Yet the other key to a successful compilation is canny anthologizing, and here again, you have a nice selection to give you a smattering of opera's heavyweights from the Italian, German, and French repertory (there's even a step outside the standard framework with an aria from Dvorák's lovely Rusalka). Ranging from 1959 to 1997, the choices from back catalogue will doubtless be the entry ticket for many into this grandest of the arts.