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ClassicsOnline Home » BRUBECK: Nocturnes
Dave Brubeck’s Nocturnes are small, lyrical pieces that can be played by children and savoured by adults. Longing, tenderness, and nostalgia are the predominant themes, linking them to Chopin’s nocturnes. Both composers explore the mystery and melancholy that take over after dark, the nocturne’s time to flower. As Brubeck himself writes in his liner notes, “...all of these pieces rise out of my personal life, and it is gratifying to hear them so splendidly recreated by the artistry of John Salmon”.
By Michael Medved
One of the joys of the Labor Day holiday from work (on my radio show, we played a pre-recorded program about the myths and misunderstandings concerning World War II) is the ability to steal a few moments to listen to music-- and to go through the stack of new CD's I've recently acquired with eager anticipation, but with no time to savor them with proper concentration.
Finally, then, I've gotten the chance to savor a magnificent new album of piano Nocturnes by Dave Brubeck--- yes, that Dave Brubeck -- the 86-year-old jazz immortal who, in the last few years, has earned new acclaim as a significant composer of classical music. Whether or not you've already developed a taste for classical piano pieces, or for jazz, you will adore these atmospheric, romantic, captivating pieces. Like the famous nocturnes by Chopin (or Irish composer John Field, who inspired Chopin) these little piano tone poems (26 of them on one disc) convey the sense of velvety, sensuous, star-kissed darkness-- the night as a time of magic and possibility and love. As Brubeck himself explains in the useful liner notes, all of the brief Nocturnes "rise out of his personal life," with loving tributes to his wife and his grandchildren, as well as titles like "Looking at a Rainbow" (recalling a memorable visit to Tokyo) or "Memories of a Viennese Park,." or "A Misty Morning." Whether you sit and listen and let the dreamy tones whisk you away (masterfully played by Brubeck's disciple, pianist John Salmon), or you choose to use the music as background for a midnight glass of wine, or a fire in the family room, or an intimate dinner with your significant other, these polished, instantly expressive gems are easy to cherish and impossible to resist.
If you enjoy the music of George Gershwin (and who doesn't, really?) and feel cheated, as I do, by his ridiculously early death at age 38 and his correspondingly limited output, discovering this CD is like unearthing a whole new treasure chest of Gershwin piano pieces. Many of the Brubeck Nocturnes convey the yearning and nostalgia that Gershwin communicated in "The George Gershwin Songbook" (his own piano arrangements of his most popular songs) but here the melodious materials also become tiny tone poems, impressionistic sound paintings, conveying distinctive and varied experiences and emotions. Distinctly American, vaguely jazzy and sentimental, rich as sunsets and autumn haze and yes, rainbows, the Brubeck Nocturnes wil enhance your life. They're available at an absurdly low price, too, despite the resonant, crisply articulated, unfailingly vivid recording quality by the experts at NAXOS, that makes even inexpensive reproduction systems sound audiofile. The CD is listed as DAVE BRUBECK NOCTURNES, from NAXOS, serial number 8.559301. It's 55 full (and fulfilling) minutes of music, recorded in North Carolina in 2005, with a list price of $8.99--- but frequently available for about seven bucks. It's a can't- miss investment in inspiration and romance.
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