Croatian Rhapsody

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This Japanese release offers three excerpts from Maksim's 2003 release The Piano Player; the tracklist indicates a fourth selection, The Flight of the Bumble-Bee (from the same release), but it is a video track unplayable on CD players. The original album was the breakthrough for this Croation pianist, who works with some of the same production team responsible for the music of the British crossover ensemble Bond. Maksim, whose surname is Mrvica, backs classical piano with strings and electronic beats. The success of the mixture as compared with other similar releases is due to Maksim's chops; his piano can stand up to the big backing and produces a grandiose but not unsubtle effect. These are well-known Maksim pieces, all (except for the Rimsky-Korsakov) composed by the pianist's manager Tonci Huljic. An odd choice for a sampler is the inclusion of two related pieces, Cubana (track 2) and Cubana Cubana (track 3); that doesn't help audiences get a feel for the range of Maksim's music, which includes crossover versions of a range of classical compositions, as well as originals. The two Croatian-Cuban tracks are intriguing, however; the latter is something like a remix of the former, with altered rhythms and calls of "Cubana!" interspersed -- but it's not every remix that has a live soloist participating in the recasting of the music. This is a reasonable taste of Maksim's music for those who are curious about it but not willing to commit to an entire album.

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