The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, August 14, 2015

Just Opened - August 14, 2015 - Suite and Hot Keyboard Central

Today our featured CD is a new orchestral arrangement of the beloved Claude Bolling Jazz Suite for Flute, Piano, and... orchestra.  We continue our "Animal Attraction" theme with a new CD of modern compositions for viola and piano in works inspired by animals.  We vary it with selections from a 3 CD set of works by Veracini, and smooth things out with classical piano favorites by 2 recognized artists.

Music for Viola & Piano
Michelle LaCourse, viola
Martin Amlin, piano & composer
MSR 1474
ISBN# 6 81585 14742 9
For more information on violist Michelle LaCourse
Glowing reviews on the MSR label website.
In perfect concert with our after-the-news-at-noon theme of animal inspired works, is this CD of new works by American composers for viola and piano.  Amlin's "Kennel" is a seven movement work with different breeds of dog inspiring each section.  His Sonata and Violetta are also included.  Unfortunately, his work is very much in the modern concert vein, and perhaps even more than usual, when pieces are supposed to represent animals, pets, we tend to listen and look for melody.  A recognizable melodic through line is hard to find in Amlin's jagged, repetitive, abstract works.  So while the concept of this CD is incredibly appealing, I regret to say that much of the music is... not so much for the average listener.  Those of us who follow music and music making know that this type of modern work is both intellectually and technically challenging, and for that, both of these musicians are completely up to the task.  Merfled's "Animal Miniatures" is appealing and evocative, and Houghton's "Whalefall" brings the watery, new age influence that one expects from the title; these are the accessible highlights of the CD, and those are the pieces we share today on Just Opened.  I'll leave it to our adventuresome audience members to seek out the CD for the  more challenging works.

Symphonic Arrangement by
Steve Barta
Hubert Laws, flute
Jeffrey Biegel, piano
ISBN# 6 70579 69291 5
Pianist Jeffrey Biegel's official site
My Delight of the Week!  One of our WSCL favorite pianists, Jeffrey Biegel, is at it again - recording a new take on a beloved favorite that promises to bring it back into the light again in a new version... not that Bolling's "Suite" ever left its place in popularity.  Much like seminal pieces/groups like Herb Alpert, and the 5th Dimension, some things strike such a chord that they remain in our collective positive memory - such is Bolling's Suite.  Arranger Steve Barta brings the full orchestra to this work in a way that is fulfilling and subtle.  He carefully balances the original intention (setting) of the work with the great variety possible in the orchestra to enhance the work, but never to overwhelm it.  Often an orchestration of a smaller work either changes it to make it a completely "new thing" for orchestra, or sometimes it can feel like (as do many theme and variation arrangements)  "a really big deal made out of very small concept."  Barta's special success here is the way he makes choices to keep the intimate and light feel of the work while giving it the additional musical depth.  A total success!

Samuel Perez, piano
ISBN# 8 84501 93762 7
Puerto Rico born Perez has performed in Europe, US, Mexico, the Carribean as soloist, chamber musician, and with many orchestras, playing a variety of styles.  He has received international awards and recognition, and - due to his performance styles and venues - an unusally broad array of critical acclaim from Chick Corea's copious critical compliments, to Paul Polovnik (Conductor Laureate of the New Hampshire Music Festival) calling him "the real deal."  On this CD, Perez turns his talents to the tried and true, beloved works of the Romantic era by the great masters.  He focuses largely on single movements and shorter works by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Mozart and Strauss, making for a savvy collection of selections that are very accessible to the ipod crowd.

Pandolfi's Website for Info. & Purchases
ISBN# 7 07541 85102 2
This release from 2006 has a simple cover photo of a keyboard, with the names of the included composers superimposed on the black keys.  Pandolfi has appeared locally a number of times in the Delmarva region, and has a growing, sparkling reputation internationally as today's foremost interpreter of Gershwin.  One of the nice things about this CD is that we really get to experience his full range, from Liszt and Scriabin, Mozart and Chopin, to Gershwin and Webber.   It is a varied display of the excellence that won him scholarships to Juliard for both his bachelor's and master's degrees.

VERACINI  (3 CD set)
Complete Sonate Accademiche
Trio Settecento
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
John Mark Rozendaal, cello
David Schrader, harpsichord
ISBN#7 35--- 91552 8
Visit Trio Settecento's site (free downloads, too!)
Gift Giver's Delight!  The individual performers of Trio Settecento are no strangers to critical acclaim, awards and rave reveiws in their solo careers, so it is not surprising that, when they pool their talent, intelligence, musicality, and interest for a labor of love like this 3 CD set of the works of Francesco Maria Veracini, it has a full bouquet of critical raves and gushing kudos.  I'll join the club.  Magnificent musicians with unity of purpose, at the top of their game, in an excellent recording.  Not everyone is a fan of Baroque music, and in any 3 CD set of one composer's works for the same trio combination, there is an inevitable sameness  (which is exactly why we mix things up on air).    For those who are not Baroque fans, these CDs could be interminable, but for most of WSCL's listeners this is a "staple" and even an entire CD would be, for most of our listeners, a soothing delight.  For any lover of baroque chamber works, this would be a magnificent gift!

Join us again next week for more great music, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

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