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Classical Music Review

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3 Rhapsodies
For Piano and Orchestra


Composer: Matej Meštrović
Conductor: Miran Vaupotić
Performed by: Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Matej Meštrović (piano)
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 22 March 2019

It is hard not to compare Matej Meštrović's compositional style to that of his predecessors in the late-Romantic tradition. Over the course of this album you'll be reminded of Rachmaninoff’s concertos, Tchaikovsky's works, or Prokofiev's neoclassicism; and the name of the album's first work, 'Danube Rhapsody', naturally evokes associations with Smetana's similarly river-themed Vltava...

Matej Meštrović is a modern genius. His compositions are fresh, emotionally rewarding and yet hark back to some of the most notable composers of all time - without actually treading on their toes.

The album contains three pieces, spread over eight tracks (58 min, 04 sec). It opens with the four-part 'Danube Rhapsody' (28 min, 49 sec). This is followed by 'Chinese Rhapsody' (12 min) and the three-part 'New England Rhapsody' (17 min, 15 sec). These are such diverse pieces yet all share one common factor: the ability to get under your skin, send a shiver down your spine and move you emotionally.

But... if I had to choose personal highlights I would have to give special mention to 'Chinese Rhapsody' which employs traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa, erhu, and zheng, gorgeously contrasting them against the tremolo strings of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra.

And secondly (and my personal favourite track) is the emotionally rewarding 'New England Rhapsody - II. Poco a Poco', which will lift your spirit and touch your soul.

This is one of the few albums of late that I've listened to a little too much before finally getting around to reviewing. Partly because I was enjoying it so much, and partly because every time I listened to it I found something else that I'd overlooked and I wanted to make sure I had familiarised myself with every nuance... I'm not sure I ever will, fully. It's also one of the few album's I've added every single track on to my favourites playlist.


Darren Rea

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