"Our subscribers were raving and pleading that we bring back the Quintet next year."

Stephen Cooke's CD pick of the week

By Stephen Cooke in the Chronicle Herald

Major retailers couldn’t get their heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and cuddly slogan-bearing stuffed animals on the shelves fast enough once Boxing Day sent their Christmas merchandise to the discount bins.

But if you’re really compelled to get something romantic for Valentine’s Day a month ahead of time, why not buy local and give a gift that won’t wilt or expand waistlines, in the form of Rhapsody Quintet’s new double-CD Passion? The first half, titled Eclectica, is all about lighting the fire, with bright arrangements of music by the Beatles, Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings score and a blend of exotica and jazz on the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Take Five. CD 2 turns up the heat with 13 tangos played with grace and brio, best enjoyed by candlelight.

For more on Passion, including audio samples of all its tracks, visit rhapsodyquintet.com.