An Die Musik

The Painter's Music, the Musician's Art

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The popularity of concerts in art museum galleries, like those from which this double CD emerged, is easy to understand. A museum gallery makes a reasonable sonic stand-in for the mansion halls for which a great deal of chamber music was originally intended. Audience members don't have to climb over each other, as they often must in an auditorium, and they can shift around without making noise. And most important, connections between music and art will often suggest themselves and enrich the visitor's experience of both. All this said, those connections tend to become more tenuous when the music is removed from the physical setting of the museum. In this release by the American chamber group An die Musik, they are tenuous indeed even though there were direct connections between the ensemble and the visual artists involved. The package contains nice (if small) reproductions of works by four well-known artists: Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Robert Motherwell, and Kenneth Noland. Each of the artworks was created as a poster for An die Musik's ongoing and traveling Painter's Music/Musician's Art concert series, but only two of them directly involve musical elements. There is also a statement by each artist about his or her musical likes and dislikes, rising no further above the pedestrian than would a disquisition on modern art by a group of composers. The performances themselves by An die Musik are unobjectionable, but what keeps the disc in gift-shop territory is that the music, a set of chamber pieces ranging from Mozart to Schumann, has little or no connection with the art or the artists involved. The Painter's Music/The Musician's Art might make a good present for the frequent museumgoer who likes mainstream classical chamber music, but a more thoughtful gift, in every sense, would be one of the beautifully produced discs from France's Alpha label that delves deeply into how the world of ideas is refracted through music and art.

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