Michael Tilson Thomas / Yuja Wang

Masterpieces in Miniature

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Michael Tilson Thomas' Masterpieces in Miniature is an unusual offering from a conductor better known for his impressive recordings of the expansive symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler, and Charles Ives. But an album of small orchestral pieces seems to be an expression of Tilson Thomas' lighter side, in which he can entertain as well as edify his audience. Most of the pieces are quite familiar and many are beloved favorites, such as Rachmaninov's Vocalise, Fauré's Pavane, Sibelius' Valse triste, and Dvorák's Legend, which are often anthologized. Mahler is represented by the sentimental Blumine, which was rejected from the Symphony No. 1, and Ives makes an appearance in Henry Brant's arrangement of The Alcotts, from A Concord Symphony. The label's featured track is Henry Litolff's Scherzo from the Concerto symphonique No. 4, a sparkling bonbon that pianist Yuja Wang delivers with wit and virtuosic skill. But all of the program is a delight, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra maintains high levels of brilliance and passion throughout, and responds to Tilson Thomas' direction with alertness and accuracy. The super audio sound by SFS Media is remarkable for its depth and presence, a hallmark of the orchestra's recordings.

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