Hilary and Jackie, Soundtrack music including Elgar's Cello Concerto in E-Minor, performed by cellist Jacqueline DuPre and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim (Sony Classics ASK-60394). It's not only one of the great films of 1998 (scheduled to open in Buffalo next Friday), it's one of less than a handful of great films ever made about classical virtuosi. ("Shine," for instance, doesn't count. It's an uplifitng film about a carnival act.) The virtuoso is the great cellist Jacqueline DuPre, whose tragically truncated career saw her earn near-universal acclaim as one of the great cellists of the century until multiple sclerosis forced her retirement in 1973 and caused her obscenely early death in 1987 at age 42. Her active musical life spanned a mere 12 years. The Elgar Cello concerto was not only her signature piece but a piece which, arguably, made a giant leap into standard repertoire by being so. The centerpiece of the soundtrack is DuPre's extraordinary live 1970 performance -- Allegro ma non troppo sneezes, rustles and all -- of the late romantic masterwork in Philadelphia with her husband, Daniel Barenboim, conducting. Though all of her recordings were worthy, her performance of the Elgar is a passionate and classic meeting of artist and repertoire, one in which artist and music virtually seem to be playing each other. Such moments in any kind of music are magical, and there's one of them on this disc. Rating:**** 1/2
-- Jeff Simon
Gavin Bryars, Cadman Requiem and Other Works performed by the Hilliard Ensemble, Fretwork, and the Gavin Bryars Ensemble with soprano soloist Valdine Anderson (Point 462-511-2). Slowly but surely each new disc featuring the 55-year-old British composer confirms him as one of the great living titans, certainly the composer of some of the most haunting contemporary music. Lustier than Part, more profound than Glass or Reich, he is nothing if not prolific. The works on this vocal disc are the "Cadman Requiem," in remembrance of British recording engineer Bill Cadman and the primal English poet of the seventh century Caedmon, the "Adnan Songbook" setting the works of Lebanese-American poet Etel Adnan for soprano Valdine Anderson and a short chamber ensemble piece (including two of Bryars' daughters in the cello sections). As sumptuously beautiful as some of the Adnan songs are, it's the "Cadman Requiem" -- at once lyrical and austere, medieval and pastoral, earthy and ethereal -- that is hard to get out of your head. It's music of endless paradox. The recording for the label of fellow composer Philip Glass is ideal. Rating:****
-- Jeff Simon
Steve Wariner, The Hits (MCA MCAD-70045). A man with a soft heart and a world of talent, Wariner has quietly churned out country hit after hit since the late 1970s. The 14 songs here include some of the best ballads of his low-key but successful career. Some of it ranks a bit too high on the blandness meter, but "What I Didn't Do" and "You Can Dream of Me" are very touching songs. Rating:*** 1/2
-- Dan Herbeck
(1) . . . Baby One More Time, Britney Spears (Jive). (2) Angel of Mine, Monica (Arista). (3) Have You Ever?, Brandy (Atlantic). (4) Nobody's Supposed to Be Here, Deborah Cox (Arista). (5) All I Have to Give, Backstreet Boys (Jive).
(1) Made Man, Silkk The Shocker (No Limit). (2) Live at Luther College, Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds (Bama Rags). (3) . . . Baby One More Time, Britney Spears (Jive). (4) Americana, Offspring (Columbia). (5) 'N Sync, 'N Sync (RCA).
HOT LATIN TRACKS
(1) Ese, Jerry Rivera (Sony Discos). (2) Nunca Te Olvidare, Enrique Iglesias (Fonovisa). (3) Crei, Tiranos Del Norte (Sony Discos). (4) Escondidos, Olga Tanon (with Christian Castro) (WEA Latina). (5) Tu, Shakira (Sony Discos).