Album Reviews

Beat Kaestli: Invitation (Chesky Records) £14.99

Male singers are a bit thin on the ground in the current scene, but this newcomer shows every sign of having what it takes. Kaestli is a stylist with a touch of class. His sound and style are reminiscent of Chet Baker and over the course of a programme of tried-and-tested standards demonstrates a winning way with a lyric. His approach has an unforced warmth on the likes of Day In, Day Out, My Romance and Moonlight in Vermont. A good supporting cast featuring Paul Myers on guitar helps make this a rewarding listen. AV

Metropole Orkest: Fast City – A Tribute to Joe Zawinul (BHM Productions) 12.99The tributes to the late, lamented Joe Zawinul keep on coming, and this is amongst the liveliest. The band is under the direction of Vince Mendoza, and he draws out some scintillating performances. Three old colleagues of Zawinul's, bassist Victor Bailey, drummer Peter Erskine and percussionist Alex Acuna, lend a touch of authenticity, and a programme of less familiar compositions by the great man make for a refreshing change. AV

Weinberg: Twenty-four Preludes/Solo Cello Sonata No.1 (Naxos 8.572280) 5.99Opera North's UK premier next month of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's opera, The Portrait, takes the Polish composer one step closer to belated recognition. Born in 1919, and too long in the shadow of Shostakovich, these works for solo cello are among the instrument's modern masterpieces, the great cellist, Rostropovich, equating the sonatas to the cello suites of Bach. Stunningly played by the Latvian-born cellist, Josef Fiegelson, the technical hurdles are so easily negotiated. Excellent sound quality. DD

Ravel: String Quartet Shostakovich String Quartet No. 5 (Sonimage SON 11002) 13.99They began their major career at the Ryedale Festival, and now this fine release confirms the Navarra String Quartet's position in the premiere league of young ensembles. Avoiding excess in dynamics, the Ravel shimmers, erupts, delights and displays their stunning virtuosity. Capturing angst, impact, desolation and sadness pictured in the Shostakovich score, they sweep aside technical challenges in assured and immaculate playing. DD