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I remember an interview I did with Keith Lockhart when he became the music director for the Utah Symphony a few years ago.

We spoke of the challenge of promoting classical music.

"It's not just dead-white-men music," he said with a laugh, although I knew he was serious. "We need to find different ways to interpret and perform it."

Well, with those words in mind, I have to bring up two recent releases — Patmore Lewis' "Rillito River Project" (Youglobalentertainment) and Ludovico Einaudi's "Divenire" (Ponderosa Music & Art).

New York Metropolitan Opera violinist Lewis' CD was released last week and gives a new dimension to what we know as classical music.

"Rillito River Project" was recorded live at the bottom of the Rillito River bed near Tucson, Ariz., in October.

The concert was organized to call attention to Tucson artist Ellen Enjoya Skotheim's Rillito River Project, designed to raise awareness of the vanishing rivers of the Southwest.

Not only does he include his own composition "Elemental Flow" in the mix, but his interpretations of Richard Strauss' Sonata in E Flat Major for Violin and Piano leans toward experimental New Age and world music.

Still, his ensemble — bassist Gerald Massoud, soprano Molly Holleran, baritone Jay Kuh, percussionist Michael Vercelli and keyboardists Richard Katz and Heather Deaver — is more than a sum of its parts. The interpretations work. And the playing of pianist Rohan De Silva on the Strauss works, and Karol Szymanowski's "La Fontaine D'Arethuse" and pianist John Nauman on Alan Seidler's Sonata for Violin and Piano, is nothing short of brilliant.

ITALIAN PIANIST/COMPOSER Ludovico Einaudi's contemporary classical has been labeled as "minimalist," but it isn't Philip

Glass. In fact, on the "Divenire" album, the pieces that brings the actual "minimalist" label to mind are "Primavera," "Fly" and "Svanire."

Still, the album as a whole is more fleshed out than other "minimalist" compositions, with their steady pulses and harmonic consonance.

Moody, elegant and, in some cases, backed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and guest musicians — namely cellist Marco Decimo — the album flows from the opening track "Uno" and wraps up with the aforementioned "Svanire."

In between are other textured works, such as the contemplative "Monday," the waltzing "Oltremare" and wistful "Fly," to name a few.

At any rate, these two CDs are fresh new sounds in the world of classical music.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com