Kristjan Järvi

Parallel Tones

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For this installment of the Kristjan Järvi Sound Project, Järvi and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra search for possible connections between Richard Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica and Duke Ellington's A Tone Parallel to Harlem (Harlem Suite). Both works have programs celebrating mundane, everyday life, and one can perhaps find a sonic link between Strauss' use of saxophones (which are frequently dropped in many performances) and the jazz sounds Ellington perfected. Yet how much of Järvi's concept works depends largely on the listener's ability to imagine the commonality of the composers' daily experiences, which seems minimal, or the significance of European tone poems to Ellington in 1950 (understanding, of course, that Strauss in 1904 lacked a corresponding awareness of American popular music). Added to the mix is Igor Stravinsky's brief Præludium for jazz band, which is another element that doesn't quite fit, considering the piece's superficial treatment of jazz tone colors in a fractured pastiche. While Järvi's quest for links between classical and popular music may have an admirable goal, namely, to break down stylistic barriers and invite new listeners, this CD is perhaps best appreciated for the first-rate playing of the orchestra and the highly polished presentation of the music, more than anything else.

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