Friday, April 8, 2016
Michael Eckert, Brazilian Dreams
The program is played with convincing energy and sensitive articulation by pianist Polina Khatsko or the Unison Piano Duo for the four-hand and two piano works, plus Amanda McCandless on clarinet.
We are taken on a journey through a number of sets of music, the "Choros for Clarinet and Piano," "Three Pieces for Two Hands," "Three Tangos for Piano Four Hands," "Three Pieces in Brazilian Style for Clarinet and Piano," "Three for the Road for Clarinet and Piano, " and "Three Scenes for Clarinet and Piano." All are in their premiere recordings, all were written between 2002 and 2012, and all have a kind of neo-classical clarity, whether choros proper or tango-shaded.
Michael Eckert was born in the US and has made his home here. He is not from Brazil. He started his compositional journey when younger with music in the modern classical idiom and only later fell in love with Brazilian choro.
The choro arose in Rio at the end of the 19th century, combining European sensibilities with Afro-Brazilian rhythmic drive. Samba and bossa nova displaced the music in Brazil from the '50s on, yet it has undergone something of a revival in recent times.
Michael Eckert takes to the musical form with enthusiasm and a natural grace. The concert form of choros is the idea, music performed by western concert instruments for a concert audience. He makes no attempt to supercede those who have gone before him, instead letting his natural affinity for the form sing out nicely, with plenty of melodic invention and great presence.
The performances here are brightly and spritely moving, everything one would hope for, dynamic and rhythmically alive. And the music keeps our attention in a lovely and refreshing way.
So by all means get this one for a nice change of pace! It is great fun and seriously good, too.