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  April 19-26, 2004

Reza Vali Offers
A Taste of Persia
Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Iran in 1952 and began his studies in music at the Conservatory of Music in Teheran. In 1972 he went to Austria to study composition and music education at the Academy of Music in Vienna. He earned his Ph.D. in music theory and composition from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985. He is currently a faculty member of the school of music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Vali's compositions include pieces for large orchestra, string quartet, piano and voice, electronic and computer media, and chamber ensemble. His awards include the honor prize of the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Sciences, two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships, grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and commissions from the Kronos Quartet, The Boston Modern Orchestra, The Seattle Chamber Players, The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic. In December 1991 he was selected by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as Outstanding Emerging Artist for which he received the Creative Achievement Award. Composer David Stock has called Reza Vali "the most brilliantly successful composer since Bartok to combine ethnic folk music and Western classical music in a unique way that is as appealing as it is original." 

Vali's compositions have been performed in the United States, Europe, South America, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Australia and are recorded on the New Albion, MMC, and ABC Classics labels. His first string quartet, composed for and premiered by the Kronos Quartet, was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "urgent, cogent and tautly dramatic." 

Flute Concerto / Deylaman / Folk Songs Composer:  Reza Vali
Boston Modern Orchestra Project 
Gil Rose, conductor 

ASCAP Foundation Names 2004 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards Winners

The ASCAP Foundation has announced the winners of the 2004 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards from among 500 submissions. The winning composers share prizes of approximately $40,000. 

The 2004 Morton Gould Young Composer recipients are (listed with their current residence, and places of origin): 

Randall Bauer of Princeton, NJ
Kyle Blaha of Rochester, NY (Belleville, IL) 
Michael Djupstrom of Ann Arbor, MI (St. Paul, MN) 
Avner Dorman of New York, NY (Tel-Aviv, Israel) 
Kenneth Froelich of Bloomington, IN (Chester, PA) 
Judd Greenstein of New Haven, CT (NY) 
Yotam Haber of New York, NY (The Netherlands 
Vincent Chee-Yung Ho of Los Angeles, CA (Alberta, Canada) 
Takuma Itoh of Houston, TX (Menlo Park, CA) 
Vera Ivanova of Rochester, NY (Moscow, Russia) 
Jonathan Keren of New York, NY (Israel) 
Caroline Mallonee of Baltimore, MD (Durham, NC) 
Paula Matthusen of Brooklyn, NY (Tempe, AZ) 
John Mayrose of Durham, NC (Shelby, NC) 
Sean McClowry of New York, NY (Rockford, IL) 
Nathan Michel of Princeton, NJ (Charleston, SC) 
Karola Obermueller of Cambridge, MA (Seeheim, Germany) 
Daniel Ott of New York, NY (Neptune City, NJ) 
Norbert Palej of New York, NY (Krakow, Poland) 
Joshua Penman of Ann Arbor, MI (Brookline, MA) 
Huang Ruo of New York, NY (Hainan Island, China) 
Wonhee Shin of Cincinnati, OH (Seoul, Korea) 
David Stovall of New Haven, CT (Fairfax, VA) 
Wang Xi of Ithaca, NY (Shanghai, China) 
Zhou Tian of Philadelphia, PA (Hangzhou, China)

Advertising and Sponsorship Information
Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
Send announcements to the Editors
Fleisher: Music In Words Leon Fleisher is king of the musical metaphors. "Listening to Fleisher talk about music is delightfully dizzying. The metaphors come in an endless flow. Play like a cat, he might say, but with sheathed claws. Play it like a Bavarian milkmaid, not like Britney Spears. Fingers shouldn’t be hammers, they should be dolphin flippers. This chord change could be from a Marlene Dietrich song; croak over it." The New Yorker 04/12/04 

Rocky 2 Tops Classic FM Poll (Again) For the fourth year in a row Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 has topped Classic FM's most-loved music poll. "Its emergence - in each year so far of the new century - as the British classical listening public's favourite tune indicates Rachmaninov's position as perhaps the most popular mainstream composer of the last 70 years. Its place was secured by the votes of the commercial station's listeners." The Guardian (UK) 04/13/04

A Rossini Find Worth Finding It was 170 years between performances of Rossini's opera Ermione. Anne Midgette is aware that such long lost finds more often than not prove why they were forgotten. But "for my money, this is the best rediscovery to cross the radar in a long time. Anyone who likes 19th-century Italian opera — from Donizetti to Verdi — should see City Opera's "Ermione." The New York Times 04/13/04 

Better Sport Through Mozart Forget drugs. "A strong dose of Mozart is more likely to enhance athletic performance. This is the revolutionary theory of a Greek cardiologist who, when not attending to affairs of the heart, busies himself as a composer. He recommends music as the best stimulant for sporting success and claims that a series of studies have shown that, used in combination with the right diet, 'it can act as an energy supplement in the attempt to reduce the use of pharmaceutical substances by young people involved in sport'." The Independent (UK) 04/11/04 

Down On The People's Opera "It is not surprising that the latest venture from Raymond Gubbay, the man who brought opera to the Albert Hall, has attracted the sneers of the experts. Savoy opera, intended to offer (relatively) cheap, accessible productions of the classics in the West End, has been accused of undermining London's other opera companies by skimming off the easy stuff and offering less than perfect performances, with cheap labour in the form of young, largely unknown singers. It is the antithesis of what the purists, regardless of the viability of the product, appear to believe opera ought to be." The Guardian (UK) 04/16/04 

Critic: Opera's Cut-Rate Ticket Plan Won't Expand Audience London's Royal Opera House's plans to offer some of its best seats for £10 is not going to widen the audience for opera, says a leading think tank. The critique suggests that "such schemes are more likely to encourage the middle class to go to the opera more often, rather than widen access." The Guardian (UK) 04/13/04 

Miss Manners Vs. The Conductor's Temper In the last year alone, a conductor in Rio de Janeiro has mooned an audience which was booing the opera he was conducting, and another baton-twirler went on a 10-minute tirade against an audience in Florida for some perceived slight or other. The problem of audience behavior and musician backlash is nothing new in the music world, of course, but when conductors begin displaying their posteriors in public, someone needs to step in, and Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, figures it might as well be her. In fact, she's proposing a career exchange with the marauding maestros. "It is true that Miss Manners can’t count terribly well, but she looks fetching in evening clothes and has some experience at terrorizing people into silence with a mere glance. How difficult can the rest of it be?" Rockdale (GA) Citizen 04/14/04 

You Notice No One Seemed To Care About The Viola "An 18th-century Italian-made violin reported missing earlier this week was found in an alleyway near the Manhattan bar where its owner had left it, police said. Odin Rathnam, the first-chair violinist for the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, had been in New York for a meeting and left the violin, along with a borrowed viola, at Yogi's bar on the Upper West Side. The violin, valued at about $95,000, was made by Bartolomeo Calvaros of Bergamo, Italy, between 1750 and 1755; the viola belonged to a friend." A bar patron actually claims to have hocked the fiddle at a local pawn shop for $600, but doesn't have a good explanation for how it ended up back in the alley. Miami Herald (AP) 04/15/04 

Today's Music: Give Me That Old Time Religion Christian music is big business now. "Sales of praise and worship albums have doubled since 2000, to about 12 million in 2003. While music sales over all slumped last year, including Christian music in general, worship music was up 5 percent. A series of CD's marketed on television by Time-Life, "Songs 4 Worship," has drawn a million subscribers and sold about 8 million CD's since 2000." The New York Times 04/17/04 

A Crescendo Off A Single Piano Note? Lars Vogt is a pianist who seems to believe the impossible. "Power, he says, 'has nothing to do with the force of hitting a key. You see some pianists attack; that's what makes the sound ugly and not resonant,' he says, demonstrating with a welter of loud but indistinct notes. 'If the fingers are very close to the keys, you always have a feeling of drawing the sound out - rather than pushing the sound into the key. You can be a lot more intense in the playing while still making the piano sing.' Sit down and try to do it yourself, and you realize that much of Vogt's success comes from his head rather than his hands. He imagines the sound and wills it into being." Philadelphia Inquirer 04/18/04

Last Week's News
Creative Marketing Lifts 
Naxos, Nashville Orchestra

by Greg Barns
When my friendly CD distributor handed me a recording by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra I was immediately curious.  Nashville is a place most of us in Australia, and in my case the small island 
state of Tasmania, associate with country music, not the classical idiom.  But this collection of works by that giant of 20th century American music Elliott Carter, is helping to change any perceptions of Nashville I may have had, or anyone else who buys this CD.

The Nashville Orchestra’s rendition of Carter’s Symphony No 1 and the Piano Concerto featuring the Blair School of Music’s Mark Wait and the Orchestra’s long standing conductor, Kenneth Schermerhorn is first rate.  And perhaps just as importantly it’s readily accessible to music lovers around the world because it’s recorded by Naxos – the fast growing CD label globally.  And a label that ensures its recordings are available at a fraction of the price charged by the larger more established recording companies.

The decision by the Nashville Orchestra to record Carter and to work with Naxos is both clever in marketing and creative terms.  It’s a prime example of what lesser known orchestras need to do to enhance their future in a world that is deluged with new creative output every day of the week.

As someone who reviews classical CDs for a daily newspaper in Australia I have a welter of material to choose from when I make my selections.  I could review the umpteenth edition of Beethoven’s 5th symphony or Mozart opera arias recorded by the latest young soprano being marketed by the recording companies.  And occasionally I do. 

But it’s the CDs that expand the musical horizon or raise the profile of works, ensembles and musicians and composers that many of my readers get excited about.  And the Nashville/Carter release is in that category.

To be frank if I had been presented with the Nashville Orchestra playing Beethoven’s 5th I probably wouldn’t notice it – why would I when say Deutsche Gramophon re-releases the great Wilhelm Furtwangler doing the same work with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1951?

But Elliott Carter is a composer less well known to audiences in Australia. Or elsewhere for that matter.  Yet his music is relatively accessible and deserves to be recorded and heard.  And because it’s less recorded and therefore a ‘little exotic’ reviewers and audiences listen to it if only out of a sense of curiosity.

By recording with the Naxos label the Nashville Symphony is ensuring its name and sound are heard around the globe.  This label, established in the late 1980s by Klaus Heymann, who formerly lived in Sydney Australia, and now spends much of his time in New Zealand, is expanding when its bigger competitors are in perpetual decline.  Last year the respected BBC Music Magazine in the UK reported that 43 percent of its readers name Naxos as the CD label they most frequently purchase.

The beauty of the Naxos label for orchestras such the Nashville Symphony is the world wide distribution network.  Most CD retail outlets around Europe, North America, the UK and Australia have a section solely devoted to Naxos releases.  It’s much easier to buy the Nashville Symphony in Hobart, Tasmania because it records with Naxos than if it recorded with other more established labels.  And what’s more a consumer will buy Elliott Carter and the Nashville Orchestra without blinking at under $10 but would think twice about it at $30 – the price of most other classical recording labels.

By increasing its exposure outside the US through the combination of linking with Naxos and recording new or relatively unheard music, the Nashville Orchestra is building its repeat business scenario.  This is what, for example, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has been able to do over the past decade through its association with Naxos and recordings of 20th century composers such as the German Paul Hindemith. 

But it’s not only the heightened awareness of Nashville’s fine ensemble that emerges from the Naxos/Carter recording.  It’s also the broader positioning of the city.  Nashville’s musical reputation has been built on its place as the home of the ever popular country music idiom.  Mention Nashville to most Australians and they would answer, ‘country music.’

The capacity for cultural institutions such as orchestras to help add economic and cultural dimensions to a city or regions is well known.  The Spanish town of Bilbao, previously just another town of 500,000 in southern Europe, is now firmly only the cultural and business map because of the Guggenheim Museum opened there in 1997. 

The Nashville Orchestra’s foray this year into championing 20th century American music, coupled with its link to Naxos is providing an ideal opportunity for it to showcase a different side of Nashville’s creative output.  It’s a strategy for other orchestras struggling for funds and audiences to follow.

Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates, Tobias Picker

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique
The Adams Chronicles

Old Stuff

An Interview with Tobias Picker
Handmaid Tale's Debuts in English
Rautavaara Joins B&G 
Who's Afraid of Julia Wolfe
Derek Bermel's Soul Garden
 The Pianist: The Extraordinary 
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
John Adams' Atomic Opera
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Sophie's Wrong Choice
Copland's Mexico
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures

             THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Violin Concertos
Composers:  Sibelius, Khachaturian
Performers:  Sinfonia Varsovia,
Emmanuel Krivine
Naive (Naxos)

18-year-old Armenian wunderkind tosses off the Sibelius with a dazzling display of sheer virtuosity and delivers a much deeper, more sober reading of his fellow countryman's bouncy  masterpiece than we are accustomed to hearing.  Eye-opening performance and a performer to watch.


Symphony No. 10
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich 
Kurt Sanderling (conductor)
Orchestre National de France
Naive (Naxos)

Re-issue of an inspired 1978 
performance of the symphony many consider Shostakovich's best by conductor Kurt Sanderling with the Orchestre national de France. Composed immediately following Stalin's death and premiered on 17 December 1953, this massive work seems to sum up the experience of the Soviet people under the dictator's tyranny,  especially in the terrifying Allegro which evokes a machine that grinds men down, before a more optimistic finale that the composer conceived in the spirit of Haydn.

Seven: A Suite for Orchestra
Composer:  Tony Banks
Performer:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mike Dixon 

Tony Banks, founder of the rock band Genesis, goes "classical"  with this seven-movement suite, each of them an orchestral sound picture using its title to set the mood.  The result is an extremely well-recorded bag of ambiant musical noodles that are less frivelous than they might have been and, in any event, less painful to the ears  than listening to Phil Collins sing.

Symphony No. 3 Op. 39. 
Symphony No. 4 Op. 42
Composer: Herman D. Koppel
Conductor: Moshe Atzmon,
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra 
Da Capo [Naxos] 

During the German occupation of Denmark in World War II,  Herman D. Koppel, who was Jewish, and his family had to flee to Sweden, where they met a childhood friend of Koppel who had become a baroness. In her house Koppel could compose in peace and quiet. The Third Symphony is dedicated to her.  Despite his own safe surroundings, Koppel’s experience of the war, and of the execution of his Polish-Jewish family in German concentration camps, had a profound impact on his works from this period.  These are works of anguish that explore the depths of the composer's emotions--a final liberation from the bloodless influence of his teacher Carl Neilsen--and the birth of major, overlooked 20th century music figure.

Die Jakobsleiter
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg, Henschel, Meier, Nagano
Harmonia Mundi 

One of many important large-scale fragments left uncompleted by Schoenberg at his death, the oratorio Jacob's Ladder was finished by Winfried Zillig, once a student, at the behest of Schoenberg's widow after his death.  Schoenberg wrote the libretto between 1915 and 1917 based on the book of Genesis, overlaid with elements from Strindberg's drama Jacob Wrestles, and Balzac's novel Seraphita. He wrote a large of chunk of the music shortly after but was called to the army and never got around to finishing it.  This is a brilliant, committed performance that captures a little-known masterpiece by one of the 20th century's greatest composers at the height of his creative powers.

Composer:  Poul Rovsing Olsen
Performer(s):  Inderhaug, Byriel, Rorholm, Veto
Da Capo [Naxos]

When composing his music for Belisa, Poul Rovsing Olsen was deeply inspired by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca's drama and by the passionate and demanding character of Belisa herself. The opening scene of the opera is the wedding night of Belisa and Don Perlimplin, where the young bride takes 5 lovers in front of her decrepit groom that is sound asleep. The drama develops from stylized opera buffa into the ambiguous and surreal with an unexpected ending, and Poul Rovsing Olsen's music reflects Lorca’s drama like a sensuous kaleidoscope with French and Oriental overtones. 

Swales and Angels
Composer: Beth Anderson
Conductor: Gary M. Schneider
Performer: Rubio String Quartet, Jessica Marsten (soprano), et al.
New World Records 

Beth Anderson's unabashedly romantic "swales" are as pure as a Kentucky mountain spring,  frisky as a new-born colt rolling in bluegrass, and infectious as a third-grade measles outbreak.  They are light, without being lightweight, and conquer the ear by their deceptively easygoing charm.  If you like Paul Schoenfeld's brand of Americana, you'll like these pieces a lot.

New Music With Guitar, Volume Six
Composers:  Various
Performer:  David Starobin
Bridge Records

No one has done more to champion guitar music by contemporary composers than the brilliant guitarist and co-founder of Bridge Records, David Starobin.  This CD includes solo and chamber works written between 1992 and 2000  by Gunther Schuller, Michael Starobin, Richard Wernick, Melinda Wagner, David Liptak, and Paul Lansky--all in premiere recordings. Volume Six also contains George Crumb's "Mundus Canis"--with the composer performing (and whispering and yelling) on percussion. To conclude the disc, Elliott Carter's fantastically inventive sextet, "Luimen" is performed by Speculum Musicae, New York City's virtuoso new music band.

 11 Studies for 11 Players: Piano Concerto
Composer:  Ned Rorem
Performer(s): , Lowenthal, Mester, Louisville Orchestra
First Edition

Rorem ages well and a recent spate of re-releases of his early chamber and orchestral works demonstrate that he is a good deal more than simply a master of art songs.  Like most of Rorem's work, 11 Studies is distinctly more European than American and recall Berio's marvelous Sequenzas. 

Piano Concerto. Concerto for two pianos. Piano Sonata
Composer:  Arthur Bliss
Performers: . Peter Donohoe, Martin Roscoe (pianos), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones (conductor). Naxos

The piano concerto is rip-snorting, full-blooded, heavy breathing romantism of the Rachmaninov variety played with over-the-top virtuosity by the nimble Peter Donohoe.  Listening to it makes you want to invade Russia.

Symphony No.1, 'Jeremiah'. Jubilee Games
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performers: Helen Medlyn (mezzo), Nathan Gunn (baritone), New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd (conductor). Naxos 

Young Bernstein, filled with piss and vinegar and more musical ideas per page than any eight of his contemporaries.  A joy to listen to a genius in the process of finding his compositional voice.

Organ and Silence
Composer: Tom Johnson
Performer:  Wesley Roberts, organ

A collection of 28 organ pieces to be played separately or as a long recital A music concerned for, as the author writes in the disc notes, "… the importance of silence in music…". This work is conceived not "for organ" but, really, for "organ and silence", as the silence is a fundamental part of it, and it’s not possible to give it up. It’s an attempt, as the author explain " to permit as much silence as possible, without allowing the music to actually stop".

Tom Johnson is one of the masters of minimalism, but he combines this with rigorous logic. His work, free from false glitters, defines, better that any other one, the sense of a research the goes beyond the strict genre definitions, and become poetic application of original ideas.

Composer: Lee Hyla
Conductor: Gil Rose
Performer: Laura Frautschi, Tim Smith
 New World Records

A rare opportunity to hear several of the major symphonic works of a true American original.  Hyla happily mingles expressionistic, complex contemporary atonal idioms with elements of avant-garde jazz, and rock and garage band with results that cannot be anticipated.

His  honking, strongly articulated rhythms mask  an inner beauty that almost always seems ready to burst into radiant sunshine. 

The three works on this disc—Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra (1988), Trans (1996), and the Violin Concerto (2001)—show Hyla at peak form, with stunning performances by Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.


Mein Herz Brennt
Composer: Torsten Rasch
Performer(s): Rene Pape, Katharina Thalbach, Dresdner Sinfoniker
Deutsche Grammophon

The best part of this odd little exercise is the sensational baritone Rene Pape, who sings these re-set songs by the German punk rock group, Rammstein, as if they were written by Mahler, on a good day.

Four Psalms, Emerson
Composer:  John Harbison
Performers:  The Cantata Singers & Ensemble
New World Records

This is the first recording of one of John Harbison’s most important works, Four Psalms, which was commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.  The composer describes Four Psalms as follows: "[It] opens with a prelude for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, a prayer composed by Amemar in 454 A.D., which states the major themes of the piece, both musical and philosophical … There follow four psalms, in Hebrew, alternating with the voices, in English, of people now living. The psalm settings employ fully developed forms—march, antiphon, passacaglia, and aria—suggested by the majesty and mystery of the Hebrew language. In contrast, the contemporary voices are set within brief inventions, their form echoing the momentary illuminations granted to those reflecting upon their own time." The other work, Emerson, is an a cappella setting of an extract from Emerson’s philosophical prose.  Stunning performances and a must-have disk.

Homage to Haydn / Triumph of St Joan
Composer:  Norman Dello Joio
Performer(s):   Slatkin, Louisville Orch
First Edition 

American composer Norman Dello Joio turned 91 in January and this re-issue of two of his significant works shows that his music  is wearing well.  Perhaps, a little too neo-classic or "accessible" for some modern sensibilities, Dello Joio's unique  compositional fusion of American popular music, jazz, Italian opera and the liturgical music of the Catholic church has an elegance that transcends the label of easy listening. Two wonderful works by Dello Joio are featured on this First Edition release: the stirring, widely acclaimed Louisville Orchestra commission, Triumph of St. Joan Symphony, which debuted with Martha Graham as dance soloist, and his Homage to Haydn, an jubilant tribute that reflects Dello Joio’s studies with Paul Hindemith.

Black Earth
Composer: Fazýl Say
Conductor: Muhai Tang, Eliahu Inbal
Performer: Fazil Say, Laurent Korcia

The Turkish pianist Fazýl Say has built a formidable reputation for himself through a string of first-rate recordings  of Mozart, Bach, Gershwin and Stravinsky.  This time around,  Say demonstrates that he is also a composer of considerable talent.  The title piece, Black Earth for solo piano, is  based on a Turkish folksong, in which Say, evoking the saz, a Turkish traditional instrument, simultaneously plays the keys and the strings inside the piano, producing an otherworldly sound. Say's compositions are hardly classical--more like Keith Jarrett with a dynamite hook-- but these are daring and exciting performances.

American Angels
Performer(s): Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi Franc 

Anonymous 4 turns from the medieval repertoire to explore the roots of American sacred music. Developed in Toni Morrison’s Atelier program at Princeton in spring 2003, American Angels includes songs of redemption and glory from the time of the American Revolution to the present day: 18th-century psalm settings from rural New England, 19th-century shape-note and camp revival songs from the rural South, and some of the nation’s best-loved gospel songs. Drawing from collections including “The Southern Harmony,” and “The Sacred Harp,” - the album explores the beauty and power of early American sacred music and the relatively obscure form of a cappella choral singing known as Sacred Harp.

Violin Concerto
Composer: Khachaturian,
Performer(s): Mihaela Martin, Kuchar, Nat'l So Ukraine

It takes a lot of virtuosity to keep Khachaturian's demanding Violin Concerto afloat and the Romanian violinist, Mihaela Martin, does a masterful job.  Her version is less daring, say, than that of, David Oistrakh, to whom the piece is dedicated, but she skillfully navigates the bristling outer movements and pours her soul into the elegaic central movement.  Among recent versions this holds it own with the very best. 


Piano Concerti Nos. 1 & 2
Piano Concerto No. 2
Marc-André Hamelin (piano), 
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton

Marc-Andre Hamelin makes child's play of these two very different piano masterpieces of Shostakovich.  Fabulously accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony, led by Andrew Litton,  Hamelin provides not simply his usual technical brillance but also a feeling for the material that sounds--to this listener--definitive.  The Shchedrin concerto, though less well-known, is no less enjoyable. 

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