Individual listeners may have their favorites among the works on this Avie release by pianist Sarah Bob. The final Never Has Been Yet of Shaw Pong Liu sets a poem by Langston Hughes and is explicitly designated a response to the 2016 election; your response might thus be related to your feelings about that outcome. Curtis K. Hughes' Avoidance Tactics #1 for piano and electronics, which knits the piano and the electronics together closely, is for fans of electronic sound in classical music. Yet even those who may object to one piece or another (and that's likely to be almost everyone, given the impressive variety on display here) should take notice of ...nobody move..., for its concept is unique: the album presents pieces commissioned by Bob for the concert series at Boston's New Gallery, and then performed by her. It thus in effect presents the pianist as curator, which is a different thing from simply selecting a program for a recording. For one thing, Bob lived with all these works in performance before recording them (these are studio recordings from Boston radio station WGBH), learning what worked and what didn't in the most direct way. For another, the program, despite its variety, has a unique coherence forged by Bob's mixture of technical control and a certain verve and humor. To these ears the best is right up front with the Randall Woolf work that gives the album its title, a fun mixture of noir mood and piano virtuosity that fits Bob's personality nicely. But the piano is treated in various ways throughout, and your mileage may vary. One finishes the album interested in what Bob and other pianists may do with this concept in the future.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Suite No. 1 from 'Vestibulations' for solo piano|
|My Life on the Plains|