04_BrucknerBruckner - Symphony No.7

Bayerischen Staatsorchester; Kent Nagano

Sony Classical 88697909452

The critic Edouard Hanslick ridiculed Bruckner so much that when he was decorated by the Emperor and asked if there was anything he could do for him, Bruckner naively answered (I paraphrase), “please, Majesty, do something with this Hanslick, he is making my life miserable!” Seriously though, little Bruckner, the Austrian country bumpkin kept writing his symphonies one after another not really caring what the world was thinking about them but by the time he wrote the Symphony No.7 in E major the world was noticing. The rest is history as the rather hackneyed expression goes.

Indeed Bruckner is enjoying a tremendous renaissance these days. What was at one time the sole territory of the great German-Austrian tradition, with venerable old conductors like Klemperer, Celibidache, Schuricht, Wand, Karajan and others is now the property of a new generation no longer German nor old, let alone venerable.

One of these is Kent Nagano and this new recording by Sony Classical makes us listen with renewed interest. It is so fresh and exciting and indeed unpredictable that it is as if we have never heard the symphony before. From the first bars on, where the theme appears as if it has descended from heaven (in fact it came to Bruckner in a dream) with a pianissimo tremolando in the violins generating tension, the first movement builds with a sense of inevitability culminating in a magnificent peroration in the brass. The second, the essence of the work and one of the most beautiful adagios ever written, simply glows and the famous climax with the cymbal crash is overwhelming. The typical Brucknerian scherzo thumps along merrily like Fafner and Fasolt albeit with a sensuous lyrical trio interlude, perhaps reminding us of Fasolt’s love for the goddess Freia.

The finale is always a stumbling block for conductors but with a faster than usual tempo Nagano resolves the problem and the symphony ends in an outburst of glory.

05_SchoenbergSchoenberg – Orchestral Works

Berliner Philharmoniker; Simon Rattle

EMI Classics 4 57815 2

This fantastic new album juxtaposes three quite different sides of the composer Arnold Schoenberg in superlative performances by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. The earliest of the compositions, the 1907 Chamber Symphony No.1 Op.9, is a crucial work in the composer’s oeuvre, marking his first forays towards an expanded harmonic palette. Though originally conceived for a chamber ensemble of 15 solo instruments, the composer later decided the sound of the five string players was too easily swamped by the wind ensemble and prepared an alternate version (Op.9b) in 1935 incorporating a full string section. Performances of this symphonic version remain quite rare however, and it is quite a treat to have this late Romantic score so convincingly interpreted. The Accompanying Music for a Film Scene Op. 34 was composed in 1930 on commission from his publisher. It is a curious work in that the horrific silent movie scenario Schoenberg had in mind was completely imaginary. Though conceived in his new dodecaphonic style it recalls the compelling expressionistic drama and colourful orchestration of his early atonal works, elements often suppressed in the self-constrained classicism of many of his other serial works. The performance of this nine minute wonder is truly inspired and totally engaging.

Schoenberg turned his hand to orchestrating Brahms’ Piano Quartet in 1937 while exiled in paradise in California with very few opportunities for performances of his own music. A great admirer of Brahms, his approach to the Quartet is for the most part respectful to a fault, featuring lush strings padded with opulent winds. The Berlin string section is truly in its element here and contributes some stunning sonorities. The orchestration of the gypsy-inspired music of the finale is a zany affair, featuring stylistically incongruous xylophone and glockenspiel solos and wonderfully exuberant playing from the orchestra.

01_Shuffle_PlayCellist Matt Haimovitz has come up with a terrific double album for his latest release, Suffle.Play.Listen (Oxingale OX2019). Haimovitz, who is no stranger to cross-over and improvisatory playing, has teamed with pianist Christopher O’Riley to record what they describe as “a collaboration that blurs the boundaries between classical and pop.”

CD 1 alternates the five movements of the Vertigo Suite, arranged by O’Riley from Bernard Hermann’s score for the Hitchcock movie of the same name, with four 20th century standard repertoire pieces: Janáček’s Pohádka; Martinů’s Variations on a Slovak Folksong; Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (after Pulcinella); and Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango. It’s all terrific stuff and, if anything, it shows just how close top-level film music is to the concert repertoire. CD 2 features O’Riley’s arrangements of songs by the groups Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Blonde Redhead and A Perfect Circle, and by guitarist John McLaughlin. It gets off to an electrifying start with Arcade Fire’s Empty Room (watch a video of the recording session on www.oxingale.com) and is simply full of stunning playing by both performers. There is no mix with standard repertoire here, but it’s not needed: several tracks are strongly reminiscent of the minimalist music of Philip Glass or Steve Reich and again serve to show just how blurred the boundaries between pop and concert repertoire can be. Haimovitz is clearly right at home her, but a great deal of the credit for this outstanding issue must go to O’Riley for his stunning arrangements and playing to match.

02a_Beethoven 102b_Beethoven 202c_Beethoven 3London’s Wigmore Hall has long been a leading venue for top-class chamber music, both debut recitals and concerts by established artists. On May 25, 2010, the Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova and the French pianist Cédric Tiberghien gave the third and final recital in their complete Beethoven sonata series that started on October 27, 2009. Released on the Hall’s own label to huge critical acclaim, Beethoven Violin Sonatas Vols.1-3 (WHLive0036, 0041 and 0045) captures the whole series in simply stunning live sound quality; apart from the extended applause at the end of each sonata, there is no hint of audience noise, although you can sense their presence and really feel that special electricity of a live performance in the simply exceptional playing.

Rarely do I play CDs that noticeably increase my pulse rate, but from the opening movement of the Sonata in D Major Op.12 No.1, through a magical “Spring” sonata and a dazzling “Kreutzer” to the final G Major Op.96, this Beethoven playing is as fine as any you will hear. It engages you on an emotional as well as an intellectual level from the outset and never lets go. Everything you could possibly ask for is here in abundance: breathtaking technique; faultless intonation; commitment; passion; tenderness and sensitivity; warmth and richness of tone; wonderful attention to detail; a wide range of colour, nuance, shading and dynamics; perfect balance; two wonderful artists thinking and playing as one. If ever three CDs cried out to be issued in a box set, it’s these. They put you, front row centre, at one of the most thrilling and satisfying Beethoven recitals you will ever hear.

“Smiling faces, furious applause: that’s how this series ended,” said The Times. It’s easy to see – and hear – why.

03_mozart_prussianMozart’s Prussian Quartets K575, K589 and K590 were all that he managed to complete for an apparent commission for six quartets from King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia in 1789. It’s been a while – 20 years – since the Emerson String Quartet recorded any Mozart quartets, so these Prussian Quartets (Sony 88697935982) are a welcome addition to the catalogue. This is big, warm playing, with the players admitting that they don’t hesitate to use generous vibrato when the emotional nature of the music calls for it. Their playing and interpretation are much in the style of the 1966 Decca recordings by the Weller Quartet, long a favourite of mine, and a masterclass in how to play late Mozart with passion and intensity as well as sensitivity and style. These are wonderful works, and the Emersons never put a foot wrong.

04_GinasteraI’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from the new CD of the Cello Concertos by the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera (Naxos 8.572372) who died in 1983, but I was still quite taken aback by the two works; for some reason, I had no idea that they would have such an incredibly modernistic sound and form. The jewel case notes tell us that Ginastera “…fused the strong traditional influences of his national heritage with experimental, contemporary and classical techniques” and that’s a perfect description. Soloist Mark Kosower does an outstanding job with extremely difficult and emotionally demanding works and has matching support from Lothar Zagrosek and the Bamburg Symphony Orchestra. Concerto No.1 dates from 1968, although Ginastera revised the score in 1977; the premiere of this version the following year featured the composer’s second wife, cellist Aurora Natola, as soloist. The work uses 12-tone and quarter-tone techniques, and displays an astonishing range of colour and mood. The Concerto No.2, recorded here in a live March 2010 performance, is from 1980, and was written to celebrate the tenth wedding anniversary of Ginastera and Natola. In 2008 Kosower met and played for Ginastera’s widow, shortly before her death early the following year at the age of 85; this CD is dedicated to her memory. In a 1964 programme note, the composer said that “A work which speaks only to the intelligence of man will never reach his heart.” This CD speaks loud and clear – and in a highly individual and effective voice – to both. Mark Kosower has also recorded Ginastera’s Complete Music for Cello and Piano on Naxos (8.570569), a CD that should be well worth tracking down if the performances here are anything to go by.

05_edwards_sibeliusThe Australian-American violinist Adele Anthony has a new CD on her husband Gil Shaham’s Canary Classics label, pairing the Violin Concertos of the Australian composer Ross Edwards and Sibelius (Canary Classics CC09). The Edwards concerto, subtitled “Maninyas,” has firmly established itself on the Australian musical scene, although it was at the centre of a philosophical storm over the future course of Australian music when it first appeared in the late 1980s. “Maninyas” is a word that Edwards coined to describe the new and personal style he was developing, which used rhythmic and chant-like melodies based on sound patterns from the world of the Australian bush. It’s a beautiful work, and one to which Anthony is clearly fully attuned. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under Arvo Volmer provides excellent support.

At first sight, the Sibelius may seem to be a bit of an odd partner, but it too was drawn from the influences of the composer’s native soil, and did much to establish an independent voice for Finnish music. It receives a wonderfully satisfying reading from Anthony, who won the ABC Instrumental and Vocal Competition in her native Australia with a performance of this concerto at the tender age of 13. Her affinity for the music and her complete mastery of the technical challenges are evident every inch of the way, and are clearly shared by Volmer, whose own experience with the orchestral works of Sibelius runs deep. This is a performance not to be missed.

06_Mozart_HaydnViolinist Rachel Podger and violist Jane Rogers have both been astonishingly successful in the world of period performance, and their technical and musical abilities and accomplishments are indisputable. Their latest recital disc (Channel Classics CCS SA 32411) features Duo Sonatas by Mozart and Michael Haydn, Joseph’s younger brother. The two composers were good friends and Mozart’s two sonatas were probably composed to complete a set of six that Michael Haydn was writing for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Podger and Rogers have been playing these two Mozart duos together since they were teenagers, and the playing here is not surprisingly stylish and absolutely top-notch; however, I did find it a bit on the cool side emotionally at times. The first two of Haydn’s four sonatas are included, and while they are not the equal of the Mozart duos, they are delightful works presenting a different set of challenges for the players. A short Menuetto from Mozart’s 12 Duos for 2 Horns rounds out the disc.

07_HandelRegular readers will no doubt have noticed that my reaction to period performance CDs is quite often rather lukewarm. I’m not sure exactly what it is - perhaps it’s the often transparent sound that many listeners simply love, but which to me too frequently comes across as thin, and not merely pure and clean, or the slightly-held-back performance manner that sometimes seems lacking in any real emotional involvement – but I often feel that the performances lack something and fail to engage me emotionally. For period performance playing that not only sets a very high standard but also draws you into the performances, try listening to the new Naxos CD by Ensemble Vintage Köln of the Handel Complete Violin Sonatas (Naxos 8.572245), featuring Ariadne Daskalakis on baroque violin, Rainer Zipperling on viola da gamba and baroque cello and Gerald Hambitzer on harpsichord. The Handel violin sonatas have been the subject of much research concerning their authenticity, and this disc presents all of the works now credited to the composer, as well as the four sonatas that were long attributed to him but are now believed to be the work of others. This is an immediately warm and fully engaging disc; Daskalakis is a marvellous soloist, and receives perfect support from Zipperling and Hambitzer. The harpsichord continuo is crisp and lively, and the cello playing simply outstanding – in fact, the interaction is so strong that it sometimes feels as if we are listening to duo sonatas. These are clean, strong, well-balanced and scintillating performances, with impeccable style but also with heart and guts. And there’s the difference: while you’re listening to this CD, you simply can’t imagine these works being played any other way, or being played better. And for me, that’s the true test of period performance – or of any performance, for that matter.

08_GriegNaxos has issued a fifth volume in their ongoing series of the music of Edvard Grieg, this CD featuring the Music for String Orchestra along with the Lyric Suite for Orchestra Op.54 (Naxos 8.572403). The Malmo Symphony Orchestra is led by the Norwegian conductor Bjarte Engeset.

Most of the music here is well-known and well-loved: Two Elegaic Melodies Op.34; Two Melodies for Strings Op.53; the Holberg Suite; Two Lyric Pieces Op.68; Two Nordic Melodies Op.63. The Lyric Suite was originally the Norwegian Suite, an 1894 orchestration by Anton Seidl of four of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces for Piano; the suite was substantially revised, re-orchestrated and rearranged by Grieg himself in 1904, some six years after Seidl’s death. All of the performances here are warm and suitably idiomatic, with the sound quality up to the usual Naxos high standard.

01_VipersThe Vipers

The Vipers

Independent www.silverbirchprod.com

The self-titled CD from bluesy jazz group The Vipers is a treat from start to finish. Produced by group members Pat Carey and Howard Moore, the disc features dynamic vocalist Sophia Perlman and additional band members Mitchell Lewis, Ross MacIntyre and Jeff Halischuk. Guitarist and arranger Ted Quinlan also guests on some of the disc’s strongest tracks.

The tasty opener, East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Brooks Bowman), has no shortage of swing. The horns are arranged in tight, Med Flory-inspired lines while Perlman’s glorious alto soars with maturity and all the right musical decisions. Her husky, June Christy-ish tone is the perfect complement to Quinlan’s crisp, lyrical guitar line. Vocalist Perlman also shines on That’s Why I’m Cryin’ - a rarely performed gem by blues icon Koko Taylor. Perlman’s approach is all at once soulful, gut-wrenching, funky and provocative.

Other stand outs include You Make Me Feel So Young (Myro/Gordon), a charming duet with Perlman and Moore that brings to mind the duets of Ray Charles and Betty Carter, and an energetic arrangement of Old Devil Moon from Burton Lane’s Broadway smash, Finian’s Rainbow. The tune is an up-tempo cooker with vibrant guitar from Quinlan and drum solo from Halischuk. Also notable is an evocative version of Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain, which is literally drenched in musical “film noir” and features Perlman’s breathtaking and chameleon-like vocal instrument.

01_ehnes_bartokWhen I saw the artistic pairing on the latest CD by James Ehnes, the Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 and the Viola Concerto by Béla Bartók (Chandos CHAN 10690), my expectations sky-rocketed: not only was Ehnes playing, but the conductor was the terrific Gianandrea Noseda with the BBC Philharmonic. A dream team! For years, the Violin Concerto No.2 was assumed to be the only one that Bartók wrote, until the discovery of an earlier two-movement concerto, written in 1907-08 for the young violinist Stefi Geyer, to whom Bartók was romantically attached. The score remained unpublished and in her possession until her death in 1956. Ehnes is terrific in the lush, romantic first movement, as well as in a second half that more approaches the style of the mature composer. Despite Ehnes’ comment that this is music that has been very close to his heart since childhood, I found the Concerto No.2, one of my favourites, to be a bit less than I hoped for. It’s a passionate and lyrical reading, true, but I felt it lacked the contrasts and the sense of mystery that Menuhin – who knew Bartók – used to bring to this work. The Viola Concerto was left unfinished at Bartók’s death; unfortunately, the supposedly complete draft turned out to be just a pile of unnumbered manuscript pages with only a couple of indications of instrumentation. Bartók’s friend Tibor Serly, himself a violist, managed to solve the puzzle and complete the work, and Ehnes plays it with a commitment that never leaves its authenticity in any doubt. Noseda does his usual terrific job of bringing the very best out of the orchestra. One personal comment: the booklet bio again uses that quote from a Toronto newspaper hailing Ehnes as “the Jascha Heifetz of our day.” Does anyone else find this ridiculous? What’s wrong with Ehnes being hailed simply as one of the truly great players of his generation? If you want to appreciate how silly this is, then just imagine someone releasing a historical reissue of Heifetz recordings, and hailing him as “The James Ehnes of Yesterday.” Exactly!

02_ebene_dissonancesI know it’s a bit of a cop-out to be quoting a large chunk of the booklet notes in a CD review, but the opening remarks by the Quatuor Ebène for their Mozart Dissonances CD (Virgin Classics 50999 070922 2 0) tell you all you need to know about their approach to the music: “Mozart – despite the surface simplicity of his music – is one of the most difficult composers to interpret well, if not the most difficult of all. For his works demand two things of performers: absolute technical assurance, as anything less than perfect intonation and articulation would be all too clearly apparent in music that is so pure and transparent, …but above all the ability to let go and bare all.” And that’s exactly what you get on this wonderful recording of two of Mozart’s greatest quartets – the D minor K421 and the C major “Dissonance” – and the early Divertimento in F, K138. This is Mozart playing at its glorious best: warm, expansive, both passionate and sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful, and full of contrast and nuance. Add the simply beautiful recorded sound and you have a Mozart disc that will be hard to equal, let alone surpass.

03_sauretYou would be hard-pressed these days to find someone who would mention the French violinist Émile Sauret (1852-1920) in the same breath as Paganini, but such were his performing skills – he was giving concerts in London, Paris and Vienna at age 8! – that contemporary critics detected the same hint of the supernatural about his playing. Sauret was another of that breed that essentially died out during the 20th century: the virtuoso performer with compositional skills to match. Naxos has issued a charming CD of his Music for Violin and Piano (8.572366) played by the American violinist Michi Wiancko and the Russian pianist Dina Vainshtein. Their playing of these attractive, well-crafted pieces, that are closer to Sarasate in style than to Paganini, is an absolute delight. Recorded at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio by the always-reliable Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver, the sound quality displays perfect balance and a spacious ambience.

04_hoffmeisterViola players are not exactly overwhelmed with choice when it comes to concertos for their instrument, so the recent Naxos release of a CD of Viola Concertos by Stamitz and Hoffmeister (8.572162) is a welcome one. It’s an intriguing one as well, for viola concertos were not that common in the 18th century. Carl Stamitz, whose father Johann was the leader of the famous Mannheim orchestra, was a viola virtuoso as well as a violinist and composer, and his Concerto No.1 in D major, published around 1774, combines a technically challenging solo part with a skilful and sensitive orchestration. Although the composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister is now mostly remembered as a successful music publisher, his viola concertos in D major and B flat major were never published: each work has survived only in a single contemporary set of manuscript parts. This recording uses the new Artaria edition prepared from those parts by Allan Badley, who also wrote the booklet notes. Violist Victoria Chang is perfectly at home in this charming, if somewhat insubstantial, music and receives excellent support from the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra under Markand Thakar. The booklet notes remark that all three works remind us of the musical riches that can be found in the most unexpected corners of the 18th century. That’s quite true, but they also remind us of just how far Mozart was ahead of his contemporaries.

05_russian_viola_sonatasI didn’t know the names of any of the three composers on Russian Viola Sonatas (Sono Luminus DSL-92136), the new CD from the American violist Eliesha Nelson and the U.K.-based Nigerian pianist Glen Inanga. Varvara Gaigerova (b.1903), Alexander Winkler (b.1865) and Paul Juon (b.1872) all died between 1935 and 1944, but not – as you might suspect – as a result of the political situation in Russia at that time. Only Gaigerova died in Russia, in 1944 at the early age of 40, but her folk-inspired compositions and politically correct works in the 1930s apparently never put her at odds with the Soviet regime. Winkler emigrated to France 11 years before his death there in 1935; Juon retired to Switzerland in 1934, and died there in 1940. All the works on the CD are from the 20th century, but there is little of the sound and style that we associate with composers such as Shostakovich and Prokofiev. All three composers were influenced by Russian folk elements, making for very attractive and highly accessible works, but there’s hardly a moment when you have no doubt that you are listening to 20th century Russian music: there’s more of a German Romantic feel here a lot of the time. Winkler and Juon, of course, received their training in the 19th century, but even the Gaigerova work has turn-of-the-century echoes of Scriabin, Brahms, Ravel and Rachmaninov. Juon, whose Sonata in D major, Op.15 is the only work on the CD that is not a world premiere recording, was raised in a German-speaking household and spent virtually all of his working life in Berlin. His three-movement sonata, written in 1901, makes it clear why he was often referred to as the “Russian Brahms.” There is more than a trace of the same composer in the Winkler Sonata in C minor, Op.10, from 1920, by far the biggest work on the CD – in fact, there is an almost direct quote from the Brahms A major violin sonata in the first movement. Winkler’s Two Pieces Op.31, the slow Méditation élégiaque and the scherzino La toupie, are well-crafted and effective light music pieces. Gaigerova is perhaps the most interesting composer here – very little information is available about her – and she was the composer most strongly influenced by the folk music of the numerous Soviet Republics. Her four-movement Suite Op.8, published posthumously in 1969, is a beautiful work, and makes you wonder what we might be missing in her neglected string quartets and symphonies. Nelson’s viola tone is mostly warm, although it’s a bit thin at times in the upper register, but the tonal quality and the steady, constant vibrato hardly vary at all throughout the disc. There’s not much dynamic contrast either, and the end result is that the works tend to sound rather the same. How much this is due to the compositions themselves rather than the performance would make an interesting discussion, but I really can’t hear the power and passion or the sensitive phrasing that some reviewers of this CD have found in Nelson’s playing. Inanga is a fine partner at the keyboard, although the recorded balance makes the piano sound a bit distant at times.

04_ames_piano_quartetHahn; Schmitt; Dubois
Ames Piano Quartet
Sono Luminus DSL-92141

This is the 14th release by the Ames Piano Quartet, the resident chamber music ensemble of Iowa State University. The quartet has been hailed for their two decades worth of well-received releases for Dorian Records, subsequently re-issued as a box set by the Virginia-based Sono Luminus label. Their latest recording features French chamber music from the first half of the twentieth century.

Best known for his vocal works, the Venezuelan-born Francophile Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947) is represented here by a late Quartet in G published in 1946. Hahn, partly Jewish and once the intimate partner of Marcel Proust, kept an understandably low profile during the war years hiding away in Monte Carlo. His elegant, finely crafted quartet betrays little personal anxiety considering the circumstances; though the tender third movement suggests a certain regret, the general tone is one of restrained optimism.

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) enjoyed tremendous success at the outset of his career but alienated the establishment through his acidic music reviews (his habit of shouting out his verdicts in the concert hall led the publisher Heugel to brand him “an irresponsible lunatic”) and perceived pro-Germanic stance owing to his Alsatian origins. Be that as it may, his truly delightful “petit concert” Hasards Op. 96 (1944) towers over his compatriots on this recording thanks to its brilliant colours, refreshing mutability and sheer rhythmic inventiveness.

Bringing up the rear is the teacher of both Hahn and Schmitt, the distinguished Théodore Dubois (1837-1924), now mostly remembered for denying Maurice Ravel the Prix de Rome. The thoroughly conventional structure and fulsome harmonies of his impeccably proper Quartet in A minor (1907) bring to mind the music of César Franck, an impression confirmed by the cyclic return of earlier themes in the finale of the work. Schmitt remains the indubitable star of the show however and reason enough to own this intriguing collection of lesser-known repertoire.

Concert Note: Reviewer Daniel Foley’s latest composition Music for the Duke of York will receive its premiere at an afternoon concert honouring the late Antonin Kubálek at Walter Hall on November 6.

03_russian_favouritesRussian Favourites
Alexander Sevastian
Analekta AN 2 9929

“Russian Favourites” showcases Quartetto Gelato accordionist Alexander Sevastian in a number of Russian solo accordion works and arrangements.

The accordion specific works are important examples of “classical” 20th century Russian accordion repertoire. Compositional acumen and the monster virtuosic strength of the Russian players created a challenging collection. Here Vyatcheslav Semionov’s Don Rhapsody No.1 is a prime example. In just under five minutes, it showcases almost everything the accordion can do. Massive chords, lyrical melodies and blasting sound walls are all controlled brilliantly by Sevastian. The work is saved from becoming a musical parody of itself primarily thanks to the composer’s clever compositional skills. Original works by Shenderyov, Korolyov, Panitsky and Zolotaryov are also featured.

Sevastian himself arranged works by Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. The success of any arrangement for the accordion from Romantic piano repertoire is tricky. The piano is a percussion instrument – finger articulation causes a hammer to hit a string which causes it to vibrate. Pedals figure prominently too. Lots of sound source possibilities. The accordion is a wind instrument – the bellows force air through metal reeds causing them to vibrate once buttons or keys are depressed. There is only has one sound source. That’s why sometimes an arrangement like Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise sings with its inherent flowing melodic beauty while Mussorgsky’s “The Gnome” from Pictures at an Exhibition stumbles with too many simultaneously vibrating reeds.

Sevastian is a sensitive and accomplished performer in this crowd-pleasing jewel.

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