SUSAN DUEHLMEIER AND BONNIE GRITTON, PIANOS; "Jazz for Two" (MMC) ***
These two new albums by local musicians are worth listening to and offer yet another demonstration of the wealth of talent to be found in Salt Lake City.
LAUREL ANN MAURER is without question one of the most gifted and exceptional flutists today. Her playing is always filled with an exquisite expressiveness that is matched in her superb musicality and consummate virtuosity. And when she is paired with her longtime collaborator, pianist Joanne Pearce Martin, the result is mesmerizing.
Their newest album, "Fantasie," is a delightful collection of works by French composers. A number of flutist/composers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wrote a whole body of works that have either found a place in the instrument's repertoire or been relegated to obscurity.
This album contains both. Maurer has wisely chosen a program that brings a fine sampling of works together on one disc. Pieces that are in the standard repertoire include Albert Roussel's "Joueurs de Flute," op. 27, and Jean Francaix's "Divertimento." Others that aren't as widely known include Georges Hue's "Fantasie."But the crowning point of the CD is Claude Debussy's "Prelude a l'apres Midi d'un Faune." Maurer's lustrous playing illuminates this justly famous piece with its sensuous rhythms and seductive expressiveness.
HENRY WOLKING is the University of Utah's jazz master. His music blends jazz techniques and musical turns within a classical framework, not unlike the works of George Gershwin.
Wolking's jazz is sophisticated, his style is refined and his pieces are well-crafted, entertaining and enjoyable.
Wolking's "Letting Midnight Out on Bail" for two pianos and orchestra is on the latest CD by U. pianists Susan Duehlmeier and Bonnie Gritton. The work pays homage to such jazz legends as Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Gill Evans and Thelonius Monk.
With its refined musical language, it's a highly original and captivating work. And the two pianists do it full justice. They give a vibrant, compelling reading that is infused with subtle virtuosity and nuanced expressiveness.
Wolking's piece is coupled with George Gershwin's Concerto in F in an arrangement for two pianos and orchestra by Utah composer Jeff Manookian.
While the duo plays the work dynamically, one has to wonder if a version for two pianos is justified. After all, Manookian doesn't improve on the original that would be impossible. This arrangement doesn't detract from the music, but neither does it enhance it.There is an egregious error on the album. Nowhere on the cover or in the liner notes is the orchestra or conductor mentioned. This anonymity is curious, since the playing is such that the orchestra can acknowledge its contribution.
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