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Notable CDs

Notable CDs | Four new or recent classical CDs reviewed by Arsenio Orteza

Beyond the Horizon

Style: The subtitle: New Music for Euphonium and Piano; the music of six little-known contemporary composers performed by Frey and his accompanists, the pianist Paula Peace and the former Canadian Brass trumpeter Fred Mills.

Worldview: "I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor and see where the euphonium can take you-from the energetic feeling of [Derek] Bourgeois, to the relaxing moods of Japan, to the Scottish countryside and back to America" (Frey's liner notes).

Overall quality: Challenging but not daunting; an artfully manipulated aural prism.

Edward MacDowell/Clara Schumann

Style: Edward MacDowell's Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 23, and Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 7, as performed by Moyer and two midi-enhanced and/or generated orchestras.

Worldview: That since the Schumann is the "single finest concerto by a female composer in the Romantic era" and the MacDowell the "finest concerto by an American in this period," the pieces merit and benefit from being juxtaposed.

Overall quality: The MIDI marvels aside, a winsome introduction to MacDowell, whose compositions remain too little known.

Ja Kyung Oh Plays the Yokota-GOArt Organ

Style: Buxtehude, Bach, Krebs, Mozart, and Mendelssohn performed on an organ "especially modeled . . . after an example of [Arp] Schnitger's in Charlottenburg [Berlin]."

Worldview: That when left to its own devices-the performing, for instance, in South Korea of music composed in Germany on an organ built by the Sweden-based Munetaka Yokata-multiculturalism, as the bumper stickers say, happens.

Overall quality: Given the principals, one expects an Oriental "take" on the Occidental; what one gets (especially in Mozart's "Andante in F, KV 616") transcends all expectations.

Melos

Style: Fifteen compositions for piano (Tsabropoulos), violoncello (Lechner), and percussion (Gandhi) that sound like their titles ("Gift of Dreams," "Reflections and Shadows").

Worldview: Ostensibly that of Gurdjieff-a kind of early-20th-century Deepak Chopra but with musical rather than medical expertise-whose "Tibetan Dance," "Sayyid Dance," and "Reading from a Sacred Book" function as lynchpins for the dozen by Tsabropoulos.

Overall quality: One needn't endorse the teachings of Gurdjieff to enjoy the mesmerizing scintillations of these pieces.

Spotlight

In the liner notes to his CD Edward MacDowell/Clara Schumann (JRI), the pianist Frederick Moyer writes, "While this recording can . . . be enjoyed on its musical merits alone, there are other dimensions worth noting"-so worth noting, apparently, that they inspired the CD's rather tantalizing subtitle: 19th-Century Romanticism Meets 21st-Century Technology. "First," writes Moyer, "I have never performed with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra [co-credited on the MacDowell]. "And second, the orchestra that 'plays' the Clara Schumann concerto never existed."

It turns out that, with the assistance of the "midi artist9 D Dan Kury, Moyer assembled his performances (and, in the case of his Schumann performance, the entire orchestra) using the very latest in computer-based sampling technology. Ironically, the "sleight-of-ear" magic is so well done that, had Moyer not pointed it out, no one would've noticed, and, now that he has, one finds himself attending as much to the details of the digital recreation as to the details of Moyer's playing.

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