One other yr, one other superb album from Igor Levit. Like all this pianist’s recording initiatives, “Fantasia” is daringly but elegantly programmed: Eight works from throughout some 200 years, with 4 meaty masterpieces every set alongside a smaller companion.
The album begins nearly teasingly — if unsurprisingly, for a musician who has launched the ever-present “Für Elise” as a single — with Bach’s evergreen “Air for the G String,” main right into a sumptuously glamorous account of that composer’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor. Liszt’s brooding transcription of Schubert’s track “Der Doppelgänger” emerges out of the shadowy ending of Liszt’s B minor Sonata, its grandeur and intimacy each captured right here. Then comes extra B minor, with a tiny Berg “Klavierstück” as a sip of aperitif earlier than his Opus 1 Sonata, lucid however by no means chilly. A Busoni aficionado, Levit brings tautness with out rigidity to tame the sprawling, doubtlessly meandering, Bach-loving “Fantasia Contrappuntistica,” earlier than closing with Busoni’s “Nuit de Noël,” one other chromatic fantasia, gently snowy.
That is taking part in of rigorous, solemn management and, on the identical time, infinite seduction. Levit is at all times persuasive, giving even essentially the most commonplace repertory the spark of revelation, and his poetic phrasing and contact convey each mysteries and immense satisfactions. ZACHARY WOOLFE
David Lang, the composer and co-founder of the Bang on a Can collective, has excelled at writing typically quiet music, like his aptly titled “the whisper opera” and his Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio “the little match lady ardour.” However I’m nonetheless a sucker for his punchier music — a extra raucous facet that has been featured on items like “cheating, lying, stealing” (1995), or this new EP from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s label.
That’s to not say that Lang’s 23-minute “synthetic,” a concerto for percussion quartet, rages from begin to end. It opens with the group So Percussion gently snapping some twigs. This celebrated ensemble is expert at eliciting sonic theatricality from such textural conceits, however they’ll lay down a thwacking beat, too, as they do right here. In its early minutes, “synthetic” turns to stark, barely linked percussive explosions, with the orchestra seeming to be taught its materials from the quartet.
Steadily, this process-music strategy leads to a grand, galvanizing communion. About halfway via, you could find a joyous, prolonged part of revelry through which nobody leads or follows. The music is vertiginous, and filled with zigzagging movement, but its grooving middle holds. Credit score to the gamers, below the baton of the Cincinnati Symphony’s music director, Louis Langrée. In up to date items, like this one and Christopher Cerrone’s “A Body. Moving,” Langrée has proven how the sunshine contact he routinely gives in Mozart can be utilized to grand impact in trendy American music. SETH COLTER WALLS
Isabelle Faust, violin (Harmonia Mundi)
Whether or not by design or by probability, “Solo” additionally presents an unusually complete image of what makes Faust such a multifaceted and fascinating musician. A sequence of “Ayres for the Violin” by Nicola Matteis the Elder and a fantasia by his son (consisting solely of arpeggios) present her present for lyrical eloquence. In dance-flavored works by Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, she is aware of simply when to roughen her tone to one thing darker and grittier, to excellent expressive impact. A sonata by Johann Georg Pisendel and a partita by Johann Joseph Vilsmayr give us templates acquainted from Bach; and whereas a number of actions nearly sound like they may very well be from his pen, most of this music is refreshingly ethereal and simple, and Faust performs it with a deft contact. The one well-known merchandise right here is the passacaglia that concludes Biber’s “Rosary” Sonatas, transfixing music that she renders with equal elements virtuosity and tranquillity. DAVID WEININGER
Lea Desandre, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Dunford, lute (Erato)
Desandre and Dunford are performing at Carnegie Hall next week, however prepared now’s this centuries-spanning survey of French love songs. Relentlessly stunning, extraordinarily French, and restricted to the sounds of voice and lute, this system can really feel flattened, but you’d be hard-pressed to withstand its attractive attract and intimacy.
Unsurprisingly, these artists excel in Seventeenth-century works. Dunford’s serene, upward strums accompany Desandre’s pure melodic traces and mild turns of musical phrase in Honoré d’Ambruys’s “Le doux silence de nos bois”; they usually lend folky — whistling! — freedom to Charpentier’s “Auprès du feu l’on fait l’amour.”
Then there are pop songs and light-weight music of the twentieth century. An excerpt from André Messager “L’amour masqué” comes off as an ordinary of carefree whimsy; materials beforehand sung by Françoise Hardy and Barbara makes for stylish performances straight out of a restaurant. At factors, the fashionable intriguingly creeps into the Baroque. Charpentier’s “Sans frayeur dans ce bois,” with its gently plucked opening, slender vocal vary and speechlike rhythms, might have been written by Taylor Swift. And Michel Lambert’s “Ma bergère est tendre et fidèle,” through which a gritty exclamation is adopted by a evenly flowing excessive tune, seems like an ancestor of Kate Bush. JOSHUA BARONE
‘Dynamic Most Stress’
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (Nonesuch)
The bandleader Darcy James Argue is without doubt one of the nice dwelling composers for chamber orchestra. His eponymous Secret Society band — constructed on examples from the likes of Duke Ellington and Maria Schneider — data sometimes. However when Argue enters a studio, he tends to make periods depend.
This time, he and his collaborators have concocted an 11-track set that makes use of Argue’s supple ear for orchestration. For those who’re a ’90s alt-rock child, a transition to saxophone-led strut — halfway via the opening quantity, “Dymaxion” — might make you marvel: Is that this a tip of the hat to Morphine? (Certainly, Argue is a fan of that band.) The following monitor, “All In,” is a testomony to the late trumpeter Laurie Frink, however it additionally has a few of the post-minimalist power of the Bang on a Can cohort of composers. (Argue has additionally declared himself their fan.)
The massive-band eminence Bob Brookmeyer is the dedicatee of “Winged Beasts” — and that piece’s ingenious thematic transformation exhibits what Argue probably discovered as one in all Brookmeyer’s college students. The album’s second half is dominated by the majestic, half-hour “Tensile Curves” — a tribute and response to Ellington’s “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.” However don’t let it overshadow smaller slow-burners like “Ferromagnetic” or the ingenious, swinging jewel “Mae West: Recommendation,” which options the vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. SETH COLTER WALLS