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MANDORLA: For a taste of music that simply sounds like heaven, the choral works of Frank Martin, Grieg and Howard Hanson on display here really fill the bill. Presented in SACD, this program is played with the utmost sincerity and passion giving it that special something that makes it have wider appeal than typical liturgical music. This music touches your soul gracefully and opens your ears to a wider realm. Tasty stuff that takes you places that are quite unexpected. Well done.

OLGA KERN/Chopin Piano Sonatas 2 & 3: Kern has proven herself to be top of the class so far for this century over and over and her flair for the dramatic and passionate fuels this solo piano date into the realm that pretenders can only aspire to, even if they keep trying fruitlessly and annoying us with the results. Playing like she feels the music coursing through her, Kern plays the highs, the lows, the bel cantos and everything in between with the kind of vision that can make classics her own. It's almost unfair to say she meets this material head on with an attack and an assault since it can be interpreted the wrong way but she has more talent in ten fingers than one person should have. Not just for classical purists, this is the kind of music that's appropriate in any up market head phone or computer drive. Killer stuff that's easy to get wrapped up and lost in.

ISABELLE FAUST/Bach Sonatas & Partitas BWV 1004-6: The classical equivalent of a folk singer examining their back pages, this is music that Faust started out with and keeps with her every day. For this performances, she went back to the original Bach manuscripts to inhale the music, the notes, the ink and prepare for a tour de force performance of solo violin from the works of one of the masters. In it's own way, this is as revelatory as "Switched On Bach" was when it hit us for the very first time. You have to be fantastic to make this sound like something more than a well meaning recital from a church basement and Faust plays it like she made a deal with someone down below to make sure it came out right. Purists can be sure that they can ride this to nirvana.

VIVIANE HAGNER/Vieuxtemps Violin Concertos 4 & 5: Ella Fitzgerald never sang about Vieuxtemps but after Paganini, he was the top violinist in Europe in the 1800s. This is a full bodied, sweeping romantic program that gives his talents the proper contemporary due. Also included is "Fantasia Appassionata" which is given a stellar reading that lives up to its name. Backed by the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the Flanderlanders give one of their own a royal treatment all the way. Coming across like a light classical program, it's appealing across the board and a good gateway for non-classical fans looking to get on board with something that will sweep them along nicely.

Volume 33/Number 190
May 10, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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