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K Mart Special

Bagpipes, theremin, and the accordion…some instruments are simply disadvantaged, i.e. people really hate them. But when used in certain settings, even these ugly ducklings can sound like swans. So what do you do with an organ that sounds almost as crunchy as Elaine Stritch’s voice? The Ken Clark Organ Trio decided to play some rather […]

My Uncle’s House

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Michael Tilson ThomasCharles Ives wasn’t the only American whose true passion, despite extreme success in business, was to compose music completely not of its time. Son of billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty, Gordon Getty went into the family business to please his father, but what he really […]

June 21

Sometimes, CDs take all the fun out of my favorite artists. It’s as if the studio mic and the repeat take drain all the life out of music that when it’s heard live rips your heart right through your ribcage. Jenny Scheinman and co. quite successfully skirt that inclination to strangle the music, and instead […]

Concerto No. 1 for flute and percussion

The primordial sound of flute and percussion is the subject of this CD which ranges from traditional tunes and J. S. Bach to Lou Harrison, here represented by his Concerto No. 1 for flute and percussion. Whatever preconceived notions you may have about concertos are best ignored when considering this sensual stripped down utterance. The […]

No One Can Know

Manhattan School of Music Opera Theatre conducted by Steven Osgood Lee Hoiby is still very much with us; he turns 80 next year and is still going strong as a composer. Yet listening to the first-ever complete recording of his 1964 Turgenev-inspired opera A Month in the Country, featuring a libretto by legendary San Francisco […]

Violin Concerto No. 2

Ron Blessinger, soloistHang around one of those blue Yves Klein paintings long enough and you’ll eventually hear a fellow museumgoer say, “a four year old child can do that.” Robert Kyr’s second violin concerto might elicit the same response. With pentatonic melodies that rise and fall over a ground bass with the regularity of ocean […]

Murray

If you needed proof that artistically and intellectually interesting new music can make you want to sway your hips, too, Uri Caine’s latest is sure to be a welcomed addition to your collection. Caine (keyboards) with Zach Danziger (drums and percussion) and Tim Lefebvre (bass and guitar) update ’70s schwank with a host of new […]

Eddie’s Mambo

A 12-tone equal temperament purist listening to Chris Murphy’s disc of solo violin compositions might gasp at what sounds like horrible intonation, but a microtonalist like me just blisses out on hearing all these off-intervals in even more off contexts. Sure, there are Middle Eastern-inspired riffs where microtones are completely idiomatic, and a gospel inspired […]

A Haunted Landscape

This new Bridge release collects three of George Crumb’s evocative orchestral works. Fully of dark timbres and ambiguous tonalities, A Haunted Landscape also exhibits moments of serene beauty. Lushly orchestrated string chords and tenuous melodic fragments combine with aggressive outbursts and Crumb’s signature textural pallet, this time packed full of percussion and amplified piano. Too […]

Third Symphony

Albany Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Alan Miller Last year in Philadelphia I was delighted to discover a plaque dedicated to Vincent Persichetti, who in my book is one of the most under-rated of American composers. One of the few composers to write substantive music for beginning and mid-level pianists, Persichetti has found a niche […]