Zuill Bailey / Lara Downes

Some Other Time

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American cellist Zuill Bailey, based in El Paso, has made a series of well-received concerto recordings for the Telarc label. Here he joins pianist Lara Downes for a chamber recital on the equally well-engineered Steinway & Sons, which has consistently offered a high level of American music-making with novel programming concepts. These pieces, a couple of them substantial cello-and-piano pieces and the rest arranged for that pair of instruments, look back fondly at what the booklet terms a golden age of American concert music. The appearance of most of these works marked a major musical event, and Bailey and Downes put the listener in the midst of an era of musical conversations: between different composers (several short piano pieces are addressed from one composer to another, with delightful effect) and, always, between classical and popular music, the central dialogue of American concert music. The program opens with a trio of songs by Leonard Bernstein, which work pleasantly when transferred to the cello, and thereafter alternates between short melodies and longer sonatas by Bernstein (the Clarinet Sonata) and Samuel Barber, with a couple of familiar Copland melodies to close. The recital as a whole is engaging, original, and insightful, bringing together a particular musical scene in a fresh way, and the studio sound is superb. Highly recommended.

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