by Karl Nehring
Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 25 (orchestra parts transcribed for string quartet and double bass by Ignaz Lachner). Alon Goldstein, piano; Fine Arts Quartet (Ralph Evans, violin I; Efim Boico, violin II; Gil Sharon, viola; Niklas Schmidt, cello); Lizzie Burns, double bass. Naxos 8.574477
and 19th centuries. The composer and conductor Ignaz Lachner rearranged 19 Mozart concertos, including the two featured on this recording for piano and string quartet with double bass, most likely for the simple pleasure of domestic use m—having the opportunity to play these beloved works without the need of a full orchestra.” Surely the vast majority of those reading this review are much more likely to be playing this music in their homes through loudspeakers rather than by assembling a group of their chamber music friends to perform it themselves on the appropriate instruments. Those who do listen to this release either by CD (which is how I auditioned it) or through streaming will be rewarded by some richly melodic music abounding in expression, energy, and emotion. What started out as a piano concerto reduces well to a chamber work. Goldstein’s piano part carrying over unchanged. If anything, the work becomes more intimate, more intense, if not quite so rich in color and texture. For those who love the Mozart piano concertos – and I doubt there are many classical music lovers who do not – this recording will not only prove rewarding in its own right, but it will complement and enhance other recordings of these concertos. Highly recommended.
Mozart’s Jazz Requiem: The Queen’s Cartoonists (Joel Pierson, piano, arrangements;
Rossen Nedelchev, drums; Mark Phillips, clarinet, alto sax, flute, soprano sax; Greg Hammontree, trumpet, trombone; Drew Pitcher, tenor sax, bass clarinet; Steve Whipple, bass); Special Guests – Jon Singer, xylophone, marimba;; Samantha Lake, tuba (3, 6); Jen Wharton, bass trombone; Tatum Greenblatt, trumpet; Wayne Tucker, trumpet. 7 Train Records (digital release)
Well, there are arrangements and then there are arrangements. Ignaz Lachner’s arrangements of Mozart’s piano concertos, for example, kept the piano part intact but reduced the wind and string parts down so they could be played by a small ensemble such as string quartet augmented by a double bass. But what we have here is something completely different. Joel Pierson’s arrangement of Mozart’s unfinished Requiem into Mozart’s Jazz Requiem is meant not as a meticulous downsizing of the score for performing by smaller forces, as was Lachner’s; rather, it is meant as a kind of jazz tribute to what the musicians of the Queen’s Cartoonist’s esteem as one of the greatest pieces ever written. The entire piece has been re-composed in a boisterous jazz style. Using Mozart’s renowned sense of humor as their guide, the band presents a wildly original take on Vienna’s greatest export. The record is being released as a visual album, with the tracks synchronized to old cartoons, which will be screened at performances of the work. It’s wildly irreverent, enthusiastically energetic – not exactly the characteristics we normally associate with a requiem, n’cest-pas? Obviously, to enjoy this piece, you have to be willing to enter into the spirit of the thing. Some listeners will find this sort of thing sacrilege, others will find it good-natured fun and admire the skill and enthusiasm that the Queen’s Cartoonists bring to their project. For a taste of what they are up to, you can check out this video. Have fun!