Soundcheck CD Picks of the Week

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This week’s picks include some orchestral jazz, sounds from a film thriller and music about a different Jesus.


Osvaldo Golijov – La Pasión Según San Marcos (Deutsche Grammophon)

In the year 2000, Osvaldo Golijov composed La Pasión Según San Marcos – the Passion according to St Mark. According to the Argentinean composer, the idea behind this piece -- released now as a 2 CD-and DVD set -- was to present a dark-skinned Jesus. So he used Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, and minimalist elements. Golijov wrote his passion in response to the Bach setting of the St Mark’s Passion. He offers a piece bursting with joy and life even as it tells a dark tale, and the album ends with a Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. -Picked by John Schaefer [Amazon]


Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider (Nonesuch)

Pianist and composer Brad Mehldau first collaborated with producer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion in his 2002 album, Largo. But they got much more ambitious with this double-disc new record, Highway Rider. It features the pianist’s trio (meaning bass and drum), plus a second drummer – Matt Chamberlain, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and a chamber orchestra led by Dan Coleman. It’s a lot of instruments in one album and they were all recorded live, together. It shows the jazz pianist’s chops in an art usually dominated by classical composers. The title of Brad Mehldau’s album is as cinematographic as the music: Highway Rider. -Picked by Gisele Regatao [Amazon]


Various Artists - Shutter Island [Music From The Motion Picture] (Rhino)

This album really comes out of a movie, in this case the Martin Scorsese thriller Shutter Island. But instead of commissioning an original score, the filmmaker turned to old buddy Robbie Robertson, songwriter and guitarist of the Band. Robertson picked a wide-ranging assortment of 20th-century classical music including John Adams' "Christian Zeal and Activity," which sounds a bit like an old American hymn. Several creepy modernist works help capture the nervous tension and dark imagery in Shutter Island, notably the classic “Lontano” by Hungarian composer György Ligeti. The soundtrack for Shutter Island includes some Mahler, Dinah Washington, Brian Eno, and a handful of 1940s and ‘50s pop songs, like Kay Starr’s “Wheel of Fortune.” -Picked by Brian Wise [Amazon]