Here with the first post of the new year I am happy to talk about pianist Jacob Greenberg’s album Living Language (Furious Artisans CD 6830), featuring the select music of Bela Bartok, George Lewis, Frederic Chopin, Leos Janacek and Wang Lu.
The George Lewis is the most overtly Modern of the works, understandably, and at the same time calls upon Jazz influences for a startling cascade of melodic invention. But nonetheless the programmatic emphasis throughout is on works that develop a highly fluid melodic syntax, a note-to-note speaking as it were, an articulate flow of musical-melodic meaning. Wang Lu’s premier recording of “Constellations” brings us more of the High Modernist triumphant with sparkling luminosities of scale-chord assertions of great beauty.
Beyond that we get remarkable flow and brilliance in Greenberg’s reading of Chopin’s “Mazurkas, ” Op. 41, the stunning Bartok workings of his “Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs” and the equally thrilling ins and outs of “In the Mists” by Janacek.
Greenberg’s lucid phrasings makes some special and spectacular fare out of these exceptional works. I highly recommend this one without hesitation. Listen and you will know, I suspect.