Andrew Russo

Paul Schoenfield: Four Parables; Four Souvenirs; Café Music

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Pianist Andrew Russo describes Gershwin and Bartók as the primary influences on composer Paul Schoenfield, but his music has a sentimentality and overt emotionalism, which seem even more directly descended from the American vaudeville tradition. Schoenfeld's work is musically sophisticated in the skill with which it's put together, but for the most part, it sounds inescapably like something we've heard before. It does have an infectious energy, melodic inventiveness, and strong surface charm, which some listeners will find highly attractive and which may strike others as annoyingly derivative. The composer aptly sums up his approach in his description of his Café Music for piano, violin and cello, "My intention was to write a kind of high-class dinner music -- music which could be played at a restaurant, but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall." His work receives superlative, committed performances on this CD featuring pianist, Andrew Russo, the Prague Philharmonia, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, violinist James Ehnes, and cellist Edward Arron, all of whom play with warmth, deep feeling, and swinging rhythmic energy. Black Box's sound is clean, open, and vibrant.

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