If you don't know Taken by Trees, the solo project of Swedish singer Victoria Bergsman, then perhaps you're new to All Songs Considered. In 2009, Taken by Trees' made my year end top 10 list and then seemed to vanish. The album, East of Eden, was made in Pakistan but embodied American popular music in the way only a Scandinavian could do (as in so many cases, that meant "better").
Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.
The late-night talk show format hasn't changed much since the 1950s. There's the opening monologue, a comedy bit, two celebrity interviews, and a musical guest. So it felt a bit odd to see Frank Ocean — a young man who embodies a particular changing of the guard in pop music — on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night. I was in the audience at Late Night, and actually, "waiting" to see Ocean would be more accurate, because that's what most of Monday's show entailed for the studio audience.