Miranda Cuckson

Music by Donald Martino

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With her third CD release, violinist Miranda Cuckson quickly and successfully defined herself as a performer gifted at taking the most cerebral, academic, aloof compositions and turning them into pieces of art that everyday listeners actually have a chance of following. In this album, Cuckson tackles four works by composer Donald Martino. Like the works of Ralph Shapey and Ross Lee Finney, Cuckson was certainly influenced by the Italian Baroque and the German Romantic, but his primary drive clearly comes from the Second Viennese School. Cuckson makes it her apparent mission to focus less on the abstract, turning her attention instead to the brief moments of melody, warm tones, and forms with which more listeners are familiar. By no means are these works for "casual" listening, but with Cuckson's keen insight, they are transformed into far more than mere academic exercises. Her playing features impeccable intonation, a seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of technical abilities, and musical sensitivity. The result, as in her previous albums, is a performance that takes the listener by the hand, and guides him/her through the treacherous and the abstract, and grants insight into Martino's complicated but fascinating works. Centaur's sound is clear and vibrant, and balance between the violin and piano is pleasant.

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