Known for drawing unusual sonorities from conventional instruments, Xenakis strangely left the piano's potential for novel sounds unexplored. In these works, Xenakis stays on the keyboard without so much as a plucked string or any use of gadgetry to alter the instrument's sound. Although that might make these pieces appear less radical, even "safe," Xenakis exploits every other option available.
Hermann Goetz's lifespan was no longer than Mozart's, and though much admired by contemporaries, as a tragic genius his music became almost forgotten, and the domain of but a few connoisseurs such as Gustav Mahler. Goetz's style remained closer to schumann and Mendelssohn, preferring lyricism and clarity to the more radical approaches of Liszt and Wagner. The virtuoso First Piano Concerto was a student work, its lovely central adagio sharing a use of colorful wind parts with the freshly optimistic Second Piano Concerto composed six years later.
Generally speaking, guitar wizard Al Di Meola has divided his musical attentions over the years between electric and acoustic, fusion and world music directions. This time out he splits the difference with some dazzling results. Coming off his short-lived reunion with Return to Forever, Di Meola returns to the solo spotlight with Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody, a strong and varied effort that moves mostly in the acoustic direction and features some high-profile personnel, including pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and bassist Charlie Haden.
As John Zorn’s most popular project reaches its tenth year, Tzadik celebrates the Masada songbook with a series of all-star tributes. Following Masada Guitars, Volume 2 is an eclectic and powerful collection of almost two dozen Masada classics artfully arranged by some of the downtown scene’s most creative performers. Zorn’s catchiest and most lyrical tunes performed by rock bands, klezmer groups, vocalists, jazz.
This is a fine recording of two vastly under-appreciated works by young cello virtuoso Han-Na Chang. She has the extraordinary technique to play the excruciatingly difficult cadenza in the central movement of the Sinfonia Concertante and the sustained tone to play the long, lyrical melodies in the opening movement of the cello sonata. Antonio Pappano is a faithful accompanist whether he's directing the London Symphony Orchestra in the Sinfonia Concertante or playing the piano in the cello sonata.
Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice—demons and all—and the spirit of his time, and in doing so, created a body of music the likes of which no one had ever before imagined. "An artist must never stand still," he once said. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory, and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.