A little less than eight years after it occurred, Concord Records issued this concert, originally broadcast on German radio, from Gerry Mulligan's last European tour, performed less than a year before his death. Mulligan appears with his regular band of the time – pianist Ted Rosenthal, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Ron Vincent – playing a group of originals that serve as springboards for his lyrical style of baritone saxophone playing. The group, which had been together for several years at this point, plays smoothly, offering excellent support to the leader. A special treat is the final track, a version of "These Foolish Things" on which Mulligan duets with guest star Dave Brubeck. The album demonstrates that, in his maturity, Mulligan continued to live up to the standards he had set for himself across a career stretching back 45 years. There are no real revelations this late in the game, but Mulligan and the band play with the assurance of veterans.
Cut live at the Reichstag in the German city, Berlin is very different from The Live Tapes, with a rather leaner, harder-rocking sound, and more of a dance-rock feel as well, and is also miked much closer for a more intimate sound…
"…Janowski's pacing and preparation of the orchestra is masterly. Reacting with sensitivity to the score, the tender & reflective scenes are given space to breathe without taxing the singers into strained tone. (…) The more one hears, the more one appreciates the vocal acting as well as the superlative orchestral contribution (make no mistake, there are at least 3 world class orchestras resident in Berlin today). This listener (at least) is eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Ring." ~sa-cd.net
"This is the 6th instalment of PentaTone’s successful Wagner Edition. It is the first time in the recording history that a label records all major Wagner opera’s with the same orchestra, choir and conductor. This makes the PentaTone Wagner Edition a great collector’s item. All operas are recorded live in the Philharmonie in Berlin. The first five recordings were awarded with “Editor’s Choice” (Gramophone), Recording of the Month and Opera Choice of the Month (BBC Music Magazine), CD of the week (Sunday Times). Based on the reviews of the concert we expect high scores for the Tannhäuser recording as well." ~prestoclassical
Berlin reached their commercial peak – and their creative low point – with "Take My Breath Away" in 1986. While it's really not a bad song, the Top Gun hit removed the group from their new romantic roots, straying into adult contemporary territory. Master Series is an enjoyable career summary that collects nearly every track from Berlin that is worth collecting. Like many American new wave groups, Berlin was a superb singles band, but their albums were somewhat inconsistent. And their earliest work is the best, especially MTV classics like "Masquerade," "Dancing in Berlin," and "The Metro." On the naughty "Sex (I'm A…)," singer Terri Nunn shocked pop radio years before Madonna with its pornographic moans and groans and racy lyrics. "The Metro" encapsulates Berlin's affection for European new wave music with its somber, swirling synthesizers and sad, cold-as-ice vocals. The spiteful "No More Words" rips away the saccharine layers of "Take My Breath Away".
"PentaTone have definitely established a winning formula for success with the ten Wagner operas they are currently recording in association with Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin. (…) The presentation of this set is excellent. Thankfully, it includes a well translated German/ English libretto (unlike the travesty supplied with the Bychkov version), a thought provoking essay on the opera by Steffen Georgi and full artist biographies. Though my own allegiance to the Bychkov version among recent recordings remains steadfast this Janowski account is unlikely to disappoint. It will surely be welcomed by avid Wagnerites and makes one eager for the next issue in what is proving to be a superlative series." ~sa-cd.net