The violin and piano sonatas of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel draw on foreign idioms: gypsy music in Debussy's case and African-American blues in Ravel's. But they remain completely French works, spiced with something exotic, and British violinist Jennifer Pike forges interpretations that keep this in mind. Start with the "Blues" slow movement of the Ravel Violin Sonata in G major: Pike and her accompanist, Martin Roscoe, avoid exaggerating the bluesy qualities of the music and instead emphasize the odd, almost tense disconnection between violin and piano that, combined with the languid blues melodies, gives this piece its special piquancy.
Official Release #109. Original Recordings And Mixes Produced By Frank Zappa. Little Dots contains more recordings of the under-documented Petit Wazoo Ensemble, which toured at the end of 1972 (previously heard officially on Imaginary Diseases). Again, the sound isn't pristine here, but it's quite listenable. The show starts with a very early version of "Cosmik Debris," but other than that and "Rollo" the material is all new (mostly due to being largely improvised). "Little Dots, Pt. 1" is a previously unreleased piece that features bassist Dave Parlato and drummer Jim Gordon in dialogue, joined by FZ on guitar about halfway though. "Little Dots, Pt. 2" kicks off with a Tony Duran slide solo, and heads into a trombone solo followed by another FZ guitar solo.
Official Release #94. Finer Moments is a curious but mostly excellent compilation of (mostly) instrumental odds and ends put together by FZ in 1972 that went (mostly) unreleased until 2012. Disc one concentrates on the 1968-1969 Mothers. The first four tracks are from a 1969 Royal Albert Hall show that was partially documented in the film Uncle Meat. "Sleazette" is a great guitar solo, but the Mozart piece loses quite a bit without the "ballet" visuals. "The Wailing Zombie Music" sounds part-composed/part-conducted improvisation. "The Old Curiosity Shoppe" is a nice jam from 1971 featuring some nice wah-wah alto sax from Ian Underwood and wicked soloing from FZ.
The most brilliant of Belgian composer César Franck's compositions were written during the final decade of his life; the Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra, the famous Violin Sonata, the D major String Quartet, and, perhaps most important, the Symphony in D minor are all the products of a single, remarkable five-year period. The Symphony, by no means an immediate success with critics or audiences, has nevertheless become so fused with the popular image of César Franck that it is nearly impossible to think of him without also thinking of this 40-minute orchestral juggernaut.