Of all the so-called minimalists working today, John Adams is the only one with any good ideas left. Witness this delightful release. The key to Adams's creativity is that he isn't bound by theoretical constraints on what "minimalism" should be. Century Rolls (1995) is a commission by Emanuel Ax, and it was inspired by the composer's listening to a CD recording of an ancient player piano.
For today s audiences, Vivaldi s name exemplifies Venetian opera in the early 18th century but he was not the only composer to shape the distinctive musical aesthetic of the great trading city known as La Serenissima. In this release of arias by Vivaldi and his contemporaries, countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic further explores Venice s contribution to world s rich store of Baroque opera. Cencic recreates the Venetian ambiance with the support of Italian violinist/conductor Riccardo Minasi and his ensemble Il Pomo d Oro.
The prize here is the Rachmaninoff cello sonata, a warm, hyper-Romantic musical tapestry that gives both the pianist and cellist a major workout. Ma is a superb chamber-music player, as is Ax. Both offer the kind of artistic give-and-take that a great performance of this music requires, while neither weighs the music down with excessive indulgence. The Prokofiev, a very different sort of musical beast, is a much lighter work, but it's done no less well. This is one of Ma's best chamber-music discs.
Are you ready for extreme 18th century keyboard? The typically sparse packaging graphics of this ECM release may indicate only to German speakers what's contained inside: a "Tangentenflügel" is a tangent piano, a rare keyboard instrument of Mozart's time that used hammers, striking the strings at a tangent, but no dampers. The sound combines qualities of a clavichord (its nearest relative, but the tangent piano is louder), a fortepiano, and a harpsichord.