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Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
 (28 April – 11 May)

SUK, J.: Fairy Tale / Fantasy in G minor / Fantasticke scherzo (M. Ludwig, Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta)
(Naxos: 8.572323)

Reviewer: rgraves321
Date Reviewed: 04/06/11
SUK, J.: Fairy Tale / Fantasy in G minor / Fantasticke scherzo (M. Ludwig, Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta)

This Fairy Tale has a happy ending (and beginning and middle)

This new release features three orchestral works by Czech composer Josef Suk, son-in-law to Antonin Dvorak. JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra turn in solid performances of these works, and produce a disc that rewards repeated listening.

Suk’s Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, Op. 24 starts the program. Michael Ludwig shines as the soloist, bringing just a hint of Slavic expression (for want of a better term) to the music.  Although Suk didn’t use Czech folk music in his compositions, this performance leaves no doubt as to his nationality.

The centerpiece of the release is Suk’s Fairy Tale, Op. 16.  Although influenced by Richard Strauss, Suk took a different path. His orchestration is just as brilliant and exotic as Strauss, but without the latter’s brashness and aggressiveness. Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic hit the right tone just about all the way through the work. The soft passages are tenderly beautiful, the dramatic ones authoritative without being bombastic.  In this recording one can understand why the Fairy Tale is one of Suk’s most popular works.

The final work on the album, the Fantastick scherzo, Op. 25, trips lightly along. Falletta keeps the music moving along, while lingering over the introspective sections long enough for the listener to savor them.

Particularly striking is how well-recorded this release is. Suk’s music is as much about orchestral coloration as it is about structure, and Buffalo Philharmonic has a warm, inviting sound that really adds to the performance of these works.

Recommended for the performances, and a real bargain for the price.

DUO JALAL: Different World (A)
(Innova: INNOVA793)

Reviewer: KL116235
Date Reviewed: 04/03/11
DUO JALAL: Different World (A)

Excellently Ethnic!

One of the most interesting - but somewhat intimidating - chamber ensembles of the 21st Century is probably the pairing of the viola with percussion. The dark sonority of the viola is a pleasing harmonic compliment to the various textures that percussion provides as a background. I say intimidating because in theory, it's hard to imagine the two types of instruments coming together well.

With some compositions it isn't successful, but the selections on this album do not suffer from that problem. The vibrance of the compositions comes through in both the way in which the instruments are handled and the execution of the music by the performers. The sound is at times reminiscent of Klezmer, at others mainstream world music and at all times has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor. In all the tracks there is fantastic energy and interesting textural sounds that are uplifting and engaging. I find myself listening to this album frequently in the car when I'm in the mood for something upbeat.

Definitely an album that promotes this non-traditional ensemble well!

NORRIS, Walter / PEGE, Aladar: Synchronicity
(Enja: ENJ-2155)

Reviewer: RS116906
Date Reviewed: 04/01/11
NORRIS, Walter / PEGE, Aladar: Synchronicity

Wonderful Surprise!

Wow! I've been listening to jazz for about 28 years now and never heard those two superb musicians before a student of mine recommended me to listen to Pege on Youtube.

Aladar have an amazing technique. He can play uptempo with excellent accuracy and can also improvise at any tempo. He knows the jazz language very well and can penetrate through jazz styles. His dynamics are superb and he also isn't a usual bassist who plays walking bass all the time. You can hear that in the third tune while Norris is improvising. Norris is a wonderful pianist, has superb technique, great feel and sound that really made me enjoy his solos.

The CD is in a superb quality (I bought the 320kbps) and it is a very good example of the art of duo, piano and bass. Another Enja amazing recording!

A few details about the musicians: Aladár Pege (8 October 1939 - 23 September 2006), was a jazz musician from Hungary. He was well-known for his work and was dubbed "the Paganini of double bass". He was chosen as best soloist of Europe in 1970, performed at Carnegie Hall and worked with Herbie Hancock. This was quite rare during the Communist Era, when Hungarian (and other Eastern bloc countries) artists were seriously restricted from foreign travel. He spent his last decades teaching at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

Walter Norris (born December 27, 1931) is a pianist known primarily for his work inside the free jazz community. Through his career he played and recorded with many jazz greats as Jack Sheldon, Mose Allison, Ornette Coleman (1st album), Charlie Mingus, Joe Henderson, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis and others. Great pianist, but sadly a bit underrated.

This recording is warmly recommended for any jazz lover especially those who have experience with some light avant-garde and for any post bop and modern jazz fans. Very enjoyable live recording! :-)

5 stars in my scale!


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