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Classical Music Review

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Oppens Plays Kaminsky


Composer: Laura Kaminsky
Performed by: Ursula Oppens
Label: Cedille Records
RRP: £13.99
CDR 90000 202
Release Date: 09 April 2021

Ursula Oppens, much-honoured champion of 20th- and 21st-century American piano music, celebrates her decades-long friendship and professional association with composer Laura Kaminsky on Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky, an album of world-premiere recordings on Cedille Records...

The album offers two recent works written for the pianist: Kaminsky’s 'Piano Quintet', performed with the Cassatt String Quartet, and the turbulent 'Reckoning: Five Miniatures for America' for piano four-hands, with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, created expressly for this recording.

The release also includes the large-scale 'Fantasy' for solo piano, written for pianist Jenny Lin, which explores sonorities from French Impressionism to jazz, as well as 'Piano Concerto' - a Koussevitzky Music Foundation commission which was inspired by visual images of sunlit rivers in New York City and St. Petersburg, Russia.

I was left scratching my head while listening to 'Piano Concerto' because I could not even begin to conjure up images of "sunlit rivers" at all.

While this is technically flawless, I'm afraid this wasn't music that excited me at all. I like my classical music to stir something in my soul - move me emotionally or at least resonate with me on some level. For the most part I found the music cold and disjointed. Some people enjoy their music like this. Sadly I'm not one of them.

Track listing:

Laura Kaminsky (b. 1956)

Piano Quintet (19:10)
Cassatt String Quartet
01 - I. Anthem (4:21)
02 - II. Lamentation; coming into light (7:33)
03 - III. Maelstrom, and… (7:17)

04 - Fantasy (20:51)

Reckoning: Five Miniatures for America for piano four-hands (9:03)
Jerome Lowenthal
05 - Majestic. Yet. (1:49)
06 - Hurtling. Still. (1:39)
07 - Reverie (1:36)
08 - Divided (2:31)
09 - Forward. Yet. (1:28)

Arizona State University Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer (conductor)
10 - Piano Concerto (20:59)


Darren Rea

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