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Classical

Martha Argerich, Lugarno Concertos, Piano Concertos by Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, Poulenc, Bartok and Prokofiev along with works of Schubert and Brahms and Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” and Milhaud’s “Scaramouche.” Performed by pianist Argerich with other soloists and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and several conductors including Charles Dutoit. (Deutsche Grammophon, four discs). A definite oddity in this beautiful set of live music by the Argentine virtuoso who is arguably the most acclaimed in our 21st century world, at the June music festival that was specially designed around her. The Schumann concerto, long thought to be Argerich’s “calling card” if any, is far from the most arresting here nor is it the most brilliantly performed. It is, in fact, the 20th century concerti by Bartok, Poulenc and Prokofiev that seem to bring out the full and searing formidable virtuoso range of Argerich at the piano. Nor is that simply a function of the different kind of piano virtuosity accorded by 20th century music but, in almost every case, a power and a commitment that make the performances extraordinary. Her commitment to younger musicians comes too in two-piano pieces by Schubert and Milhaud along with four-hand piano music by Brahms and Stravinsky (his great masterwork “Les Noces”). A great Argerich omnibus in which no one hearing it could be confused for a second about Argerich’s reputation and how it got that way. ∆∆∆½ (Jeff Simon)

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Canciones Espanolas, Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano and Anthony Spiri, piano (Harmonia Mundi). The accomplished mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink does a remarkable job in this album of embracing the inflections of Spanish song, those Moorish curlicues that adorn the lovely, Mediterranean melodies. The music is equally enchanting. Particularly glorious are the atmospheric songs of Joaquin Rodrigo, which meld folklike melodies with ingenious, sometimes hauntingly simple piano accompaniments. The piano is half the appeal of this album, and Spiri is equal to the accompaniment’s subtle challenges. Besides the Rodrigo, the disc also includes music by Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla. ∆∆∆½ (Mary Kunz Goldman)

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Mozart, Piano Concertos K. 453 and 482, Kristian Bezuidenhout, piano, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Petra Mullejans, conductor (Harmonia Mundi). These are robust performances of two of Mozart’s most magnificent piano concertos, with a special effort being put into big, satisfying, sometimes sudden fortes. Occasionally the music has a fussy quality. Phrases and passages sound over-thought out, overengineered. I have been hearing this quality in a lot of new Mozart recordings, a sense I get that the performers are reinventing the wheel. It doesn’t help that the recording process is not kind to the antique instruments, which come out sounding thin and weak. But for fans of original instruments, this is a strong attempt at helping you to hear the music as Mozart might have heard it. In person it would probably sound better, but even on CD the performances hold your interest. It’s great to hear the 22nd piano concerto, K. 482, which considering its excellence is underperformed. ∆∆∆ (M.K.G.)

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Trio Settecento,An English Fancy” (Cedille). Being a nerd, I belonged for a few years to a medieval re-enactment group, the Society for Creative Anachronism. Because of these misspent years, I recognized the title right away of the first number on this disc, William Byrd’s “Sellinger’s Rownde.” The last song, Purcell’s “Hornpipe,” also known as “Hole in the Wall,” brings back memories too. This is a great collection of popular, secular music of the Elizabethan era. We hear so much about the serious side of that time period, and this disc toasts its lighter side. You can tell from the titles: Matthew Locke’s “For Several Friends”; Christopher Simpson’s “The Little Consort”; a great set of theme and variations by Thomas Baltzar called “John Come Kiss Me Now.” Henry Purcell’s “Ayres for the Theatre” are a delight. If you are new to early music, this is a nice disc to start with. It’s all entertaining and listenable, not to mention beautifully performed. Plus, it’s fun to hear earlier forms of the jigs, allemandes, sarabandes and courantes that resurface in the suites of Johann Sebastian Bach. Trio Settecento comprises John Mark Rozendaal on viola da gamba; David Schrader on harpsichord and organ; and violinist Rachel Barton Pine. ∆∆∆∆ (M.K.G.)

Jazz

Clifton Anderson, “And So We Carry On” (Daywood Drive). Trombonist Clifton Anderson is, famously, the nephew of Sonny Rollins but that’s only part of the reason that he has for so long been one of the stalwarts of Rollins’ band. He’s a strong player and he is joined here by many musicians as strong as he if not stronger – drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, pianist Monty Alexander, trumpet player Wallace Roney and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. ∆∆∆ (J.S.)

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Randy Klein, “Two Duos: What’s Next” (Jazzheads). Pianist-composer Randy Klein is a kind of jazz composer who couldn’t have existed 60 years ago – a preternaturally gifted composer and performer of chamber jazz who created his own jazz label and is now into the second disc of a series in which he’ll play piano with two entirely separate musicians in chamber duos. On this one, he plays with Boris Kozlov, who plays one of Charles Mingus’ own upright basses in the Mingus Big Band but duets here on electric bass, where he has a lot of the lyrical authority of Steve Swallow. And on the rest, he plays with guitarist Alex Skolnick, known for something like heavy metal guitar in the groups Testament and, yes, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but a musician of formidable sensitivity and delicacy here. There’s nothing searing here to singe one’s brain pan but it’s music by that part of the New York musical community that writes music for documentary films, isn’t afraid of making jokes on disc and avoids playing in clubs. When Klein and Kozlov play Klein’s “Dear Charles Mingus,” you’ll swear they were trying to get the great bassist/composer’s attention in the great beyond with a version of “Cocktails for Two.” ∆∆∆ (J.S.)

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Zoot Sims, Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden-June 23, 1958 (Jazzhaus-SWR). A great story here. They’re not kidding when they say “lost” tapes. Sims, the onetime Lester Young disciple with the most foolproof fluid drive lyricism of any (Getz, whom Sim wittily called “a nice bunch of guys,” was always off in another world by himself after the initial Young influence) performed in a European jam session with all manner of German musicians and great expatriates Willie Dennis on trombone and drummer Kenny Clarke. Sims was in top form all the way through, playing tenor, alto saxophone and even clarinet. The tapes languished unheard for 30 years. Then in 1988 with a flawed pressing of notably poor quality, the music came out and promptly disappeared. And now 24 years later, here’s the music again in a disc of superb quality. Most of the German musicians are capable here but one – alto saxophonist and clarinetist Hans Koller – performs beautifully in coiling lines with Sims on the opening version of “All the Things You Are” and the unusual “Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets.” In the next 30 years, Sims would be a musician who, literally, never failed to play exemplary jazz. Good to have this music back – for good presumably. ∆∆∆½ (J.S.)

Country

Toby Keith, “Hope on the Rocks” (Show Dog/ Universal). Toby Keith understands honky-tonk life and all its nuances as well as any musician working today, even the parts in which nuance don’t figure into the equation. The Oklahoma country singer and songwriter who’s reached the top of the country charts with such quaff-minded odes as “Beer for My Horses,” “Whiskey Girl” and “I Love This Beer” clearly hasn’t exhausted that wellspring of musical inspiration yet, returning to the corner watering hole several times in the 10 new songs on “Hope on the Rocks.” The title track is the best, examining the rocky roads that often lead lost souls to seek refuge in drink. “Where do they go?” Keith asks from the perspective of a bartender who’s seen it all yet refuses to judge. “At the end of the day, I’m all they got. ” “Get Got” is an impressive compendium of country wisdom as contained in one-liners such as “Less is more, ‘cept love and money” and “Talk less, just listen, you can learn a lot.” Keith has clearly become a skilled listener, a vital trait for any songwriter — or bartender. ∆∆½ (Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times)