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papsrus

Concerts: previews / reviews

402 posts in this topic

 

Quote

 

Pinchas Steinberg conducts
Ingrid Fliter piano

FRANCK

The Accursed Huntsman (Le chasseur maudit)

SCHUMANN

Piano Concerto

DVOŘÁK

Symphony No. 8

 

Pinchas Steinberg is an older man, with old man skinny spindlelegs, and for two of the three pieces, he didn't conduct from /with a score. There was no athleticism in his conducting, but there was arm and hand movements (with and without a baton) that were crisp, sharp, and intense. He also, and this was evident from the opening Franck piece, insistent on a full, dark sound out of the strings. He also went for slightly slower tempos and for leaving spaces in appropriate places that allowed for the Meyerson hall to play the sound back on itself.

This was a darker, slower DSO than we ususally get under van Sweden, and although I don't think I'd want this to be the norm the contrast that one night of it provided for was enlightening, and very pleasurable. I did note that Steinberg made it a point to go back in the band during the final bows and she hands with the bassist, the cellists, and the violists. That confirmed to me that those were the player central to his game plan, and that they did indeed deliver what he wanted.

Ingrid Filter was an engaging performer, who fidgets a lot before playing, but once in, all in. Again, we were third row center, and the sound coming out of the bottom of the piano unlike Yuja Wang a few years ago, the were no mikes around, nor half-nude Beauty Pageant dresses being worn to distract from ether instrument or player. The underside of this piano delivered a deep, full richness, and an occasionally spooky directionality, like when a descending passage actually seemed to "move" from the front end of the piano to the lower end, from closer to our ears to farther away...the sound had a bit of actual "geography" to it.

Also unlike Wang, the absence of a split-front dress that gave patrons in our specific seating area access to way more of the inside of her legs that fel comfortable at a concert (she should have just worn a bathing suit and sat on a diving board), allowed for an ability to watch Ms. Filter's feet in action, especially her pedal techniques, which on the cadenzas was something to indeed watch and marvel at. And she was a bit of a stomper too, when she needed to go there to get there, she went there. All told, great player, and fun to watch, the eyes and ears sync up here.

The pieces themselves, I really dug the Franck, "enjoyed" the Schumann although it seemed a bit too emo in bass content to be anything other than what it was, but I guess that's just the nature of that beast. Enjoyed the playing more than the music. The Dvorak kept threatening to float away from me, but dammit, the guy knew what he was doing and every time it started to get too lite, here came some gravity to keep it real. And watching Steinberg conduct all night was a real treat too.

All told, another night of music definitely worth leaving the house for, overcoming the really edgy traffic we kept getting into on the way down and on the way back.

 

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Talking of 'light' earlier, another cinema trip:

Image result for the bright stream bolshoi

The Bright Stream - Shostakovich (Bolshoi Ballet cinema relay)

An everyday story of love, betrayal, revenge and reconciliation on a 1930s kolkhoz during a suitably bountiful harvest (no famines or pesky kulaks to deal with). Initially a success, so the presenter told us, but fell victim to the Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk crisis.

Shosty at his zippiest - bright, largely major key tunes, lots of those gallops that turn up in the symphonies. Not a piece I know (it's normally referred to as 'The Limpid Stream' in English) - there was a particularly gorgeous slow duet piece in the second act, dominated by a mournful cello. Sure I've heard that somewhere.

Essentially a comedy - really enjoyed the ballet parody in part two with cross dressing and mistaken identity - a tall hunky male dancer in a tutu adopting some of the mannerisms of a ballerina with both agility yet manufactured clumsiness. Very enjoyable all round.     

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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It's chamber music night tonight: http://www.dallaschambermusic.org/72ndseason/chamber-music-society-of-lincoln-center/

lincoln.jpg

 

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
Monday, November 7, 2016, 7:30pm at Caruth Auditorium at SMU

David Finckel and his ensemble of six perform:

  • Mozart: Quintet for Strings in C minor, K. 406
  • Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) for String Sextet Op. 4
  • Brahms: Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major for two violins, two violas and two cellos, Op. 18

 

I dunno man, these people look kinda Peter Paul & Mary-ish, Puff The Magic Schoenberg, I hope not?

There's also the matter that Wynton has forever scar-tissued my reflexes about anything that says "Lincoln Center", but I know they were doing this a loooong time before they were doing that.

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Again, Brahms! Damn!

The band pictured in he promo is not the band that played. This is the band that played: https://www.chambermusicsociety.org/nyc/events/upcoming/destination-vienna-november-15-2016/

Still not feeling Mozart, still still still...I really don't care. He's doing jsut fine without me, and likewise.

Their Schoenberg had me, for the first time hearing that wonderful piece, wondering if maybe it couldn't have been edited. Their time was just too metronomic for my liking. But it was obviously their choice, and it's still one helluva piece. That's why they call it "interpretation", because everybody can make their own choices. Their's was not a particularly endearing one for my taste, but they didn't fuck it up, if you know what I mean. Still very glad to hear it live, looking forward to having another opportunity, somebody, somewhere, sometime.

Then they took a break, I don't know, had a drink, called their bookie, smoked a joint, kissed a puppy, hell, I don't know what they did, but they came back and got all up in that Brahms. And that's a piece to be gotten all up in! Whatever happened on that break, hey, breaks can do that for you, you know that where you started isn't wher you want to be, so you...process it and come back for the next set. Live music, ain't nothing like it, for all parties.

Overall, a pretty traditional group of interpretations, nothing really grabbing me for what I came in out of the rain (literally!) for, but obviously a top-shelf group making their own choices. Hard to argue with that, and again, Brahms!

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Verklärte Nacht seems to be turning up regularly of late - I heard it earlier in the year (along with that Brahms Sextet) as part of a local festival; I notice it reappearing locally this autumn. Schoenberg  for Lovers.  

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Image result for Quartet

Haydn: String Quartet in B flat Op.50 No.1
Glass: String Quartet No.3 Mishima
Beethoven: String Quartet in A minor Op.132

The Marmen Quartet (Crucible Theatre Studio, Sheffield)

The Marmen Quartet sound like a group of small furry animals but they are another very nice bunch of young people who give up their evenings (which they could spend with their mates) in order to entertain old people. Excellent programming - two pieces firmly in place in 'the canon' and one likely to divide listeners. 

Big surprise was the Haydn quartet - every time I hear one (and I've heard a few at recent concerts) I think 'that's nice' and then file away for some time in the future. But I was really taken by this one. A glorious slow movement - a bit like some of his later symphonies where a relatively sunny main theme is contrasted by passages that modulate far away creating a subtle sense of unrest or overclouding. Had to play it on CD as soon as I got home.

Enjoyed the Glass - I generally like the sound he makes without having any great sense of difference from one piece to the next. 

Got completely lost in the first movement of the Beethoven - the programme note said it had no development but three expositions! Couldn't locate the joins but got back on track in the second movement. The famous third movement was absolutely glorious, especially the third appearance of the A theme which just seemed to drift into the heavens. You really hear the origins of Mahler's more ethereal moments in his slow movements here. Exciting, zippy finale.

Gold star to Mr Marmen (first violin) for taking a few moments at the start to comment on the pieces in a humorous, unpretentious way, explaining the reasoning behind the programme (life, death (suicide), recovery from serious illness (so life again)).  

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Image result for friedrich trees

Schubert - Die Winterreise (Sheffield Crucible Theatre Studio)

Roderick Williams - baritone; Christopher Glynn - piano

Became a little obsessed with this piece back around 1980 (even though it was chronologically well outside my musical comfort zone) after seeing a TV performance with added images (can't recall who by). Every time I hear it the music and words seem more extraordinary, open to multiple interpretations. If Ian Bostridge is right about it being partly a political statement - despair at the authoritarian crackdown in Austria/Germany after the Napoleonic Wars - then it was more than pertinent for late 2016. What came across to me most last night was the sense of an individual cast adrift by a totally indifferent world - the 22nd song comes close to denying the existence of a god. The final 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' is as perfect a symbol of alienation as anything in Modernism. Though the image that sticks with me most is that of the crows throwing snowballs at the wanderer. 

Williams (fresh from his triumph with Opera North as Billy Budd) started the first song off-stage and then used the 'in the round' nature of the theatre to carry out an almost theatrical performance, leaping up the aisles, sitting in a (carefully reserved) chair, leaning on the piano. 

Got a standing ovation - I don't recall seeing that before in the Studio.

 

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Four separate hour long concerts from a weekend festival organised by Sheffield University. Wigmore Hall visits The North: 

Image result for sheffield university Song Makers

Nights Not Spent Alone - Songs by Jonathan Dove, Debussy, Faure, Vaughan Williams, Barber, Sondheim (Kitty Whately - mezzo soprano; Simon Lepper - piano)

Seven Romances - Shostakovich Piano Trio and Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok (Joan Rodgers - soprano; Phoenix Piano Trio)

Harawi - Messiaen (Gweneth-Ann Rand - soprano; Simon Lepper - piano)

Cabaret Songs - Poulenc, Satie, Schoenberg, Marx, Lehar (Raphaela Papadakis - soprano; Sholto Kynoch piano)

Mainly music I don't know at all or only in passing - the only piece I was reasonably familiar with was the Shosty piano trio.

Excellent all round. Highlights (for me) were:

 - the Dove songs - a prolific contemporary writer who composes very much with the audience in mind in a style not a million miles away from Britten or Tippett (often with the influence of Minimalism though not on display here). Whately is the daughter of Kevin 'Lewis' Whately (and something like cousin to folk singer Martha Tilston);

- the Shostakovich concert - the Seven Romances from towards the end of his life - quite severe but with brilliant instrumental parts (using seven different permutations of the trio) that really sounded amazing in the acoustic of the chapel in which they were performed;

- and Messiaen's ecstatic cycle combining the Tristan myth with Peruvian folk poetry and birdsong (not sure of his idea about decapitation as the perfect fulfilment of passion! Don't knock it until you've tried it, I suppose).

Sadly not that well attended - about 40 maximum. The performers were all top notch so it can't have been cheap. Intended as the first of an annual event but I'd not like to see their accounts! Pity. More today though I'm having a rest.     

 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Here's Saturday with/at DSO:

 

Quote

Ruth Reinhardt conducts


Francesco Piemontesi piano

LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra

MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27

BRAHMS Symphony No. 4

Due to health reasons, Maestro Stanisław Skrowaczewski is regrettably unable to appear with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra this weekend. We are fortunate that DSO Assistant Conductor Ruth Reinhardt will lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in concerts on November 17, 18, 19 and 20.  [\quote]

 

Dammit, I do NOT want to hear more Mozart, but again, Brahms! and Lutoslawski, and the first look at/listen to Ruth Reinhardt...good enough reasons for going.

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Listening to that Lutoslawski at this moment as it happens - think you'll love it (if you don't know it already). That Mozart is marvellous! 

Last night:

Image result for ligeti quartet

György Kurtág - Six Moments Musicaux, Op. 44
Anton Webern - Six Bagatelles
Elliot Galvin - Valentine
György Ligeti - String Quartet No. 2
Igor Stravinsky - Three Pieces for String Quartet
Béla Bartók - String Quartet No. 5

Ligeti Quartet at Frith Hall, University of Sheffield

Second visit of this marvellous quartet to Frith Hall this year (they are engaged in an 'in residence' type programme with the university). As with the summer concert, superb programming. Mainly music I did not know at all or only in passing. The Kurtag was the piece new to my ears that really struck this time.

Elliott Galvin is a young jazz pianist who plays with Laura Jurd and the Chaos Collective - like Laura he also seems to have a foot in the longhair world (seems to be increasingly the case). His was an entertaining piece that wove 40-50 familiar love songs into a post-modern stew. I continue to marvel at the accuracy and precision of these musicians (never any sense that the intonation might be drifting) in music that often requires lightning reactions. I'll go to any programme they put on. 

Most pieces preceded by a short talk - things to look out for, why they particularly like it. 'Golden Knock The Stuffiness out of Darling Art Award' subsequently presented. Well attended from across the age range. 

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Berg - Lulu

English National Opera - Coliseum, London 

A bit of a bucket list one here. 

Absolutely superb. Lulu must have one of the most beautiful orchestral scores in 20th C music - often dissonant and violent but with gorgeous throwbacks to late-Romanticism seeping up to the surface regularly. 

Marvellous production - suitably seedy stage sets and costumes but briliamt use of projections evoking German painting and cinema in the 20s and 30s. Two strange Dadaesque actors conducted an unnerving commentary through mime throughout. I also loved some of the servant figures early on who looked like those decrepit servants you see in early horror films.

I've seen some marvellous opera this year - this one was up there withe Opera North Ring as highlight.

After a rather over the top few weeks that's it for live classical until January (apart from a couple of possible film things) - though things have a habit of springing up from nowhere.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Regarding Lulu...you may or may not find it interesting to go back and hear older recordings of the earlier performances. There's live things available from pretty early on, and the evolution of the performances are really remarkable. The "difficulty" is very real, but as the unfamiliarity goes away, it becomes a different difficulty, one of execution, less one of understanding. And now, it seems that it has reached that peak of everybody knows the hows, everybody knows the whys, it's a challenge, but it's no longer "unsingable" and all that, it's the kind of thing that just soars with rightness. At some point, I've no doubt that it will become tired and clichéd, but not in my lifetime, surely.

It is indeed a wondrous piece, and yeah, put it in my bucket list too.

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On 11/15/2016 at 0:09 PM, JSngry said:

Here's Saturday with/at DSO:

Ruth Reinhardt conducts


Francesco Piemontesi piano

LUTOSŁAWSKI Concerto for Orchestra

MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27

BRAHMS Symphony No. 4

Due to health reasons, Maestro Stanisław Skrowaczewski is regrettably unable to appear with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra this weekend. We are fortunate that DSO Assistant Conductor Ruth Reinhardt will lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in concerts on November 17, 18, 19 and 20.  [\quote]

Dammit, I do NOT want to hear more Mozart, but again, Brahms! and Lutoslawski, and the first look at/listen to Ruth Reinhardt...good enough reasons for going.

Well, due to health reasons, Mrs. JSngry was regrettably unable to appear at the concert as well, and supportive spouse Mr. JSngry stayed home as a result. I really wanted to hear the Lutowski, but...oh well.

 

 

 

 

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Unlucky, Jim. But these things happen. Hope your wife is better. 

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Thanks, Bev. She's already feeling better.

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Snuck out for a late entry for the year: 

ligeti.jpg

My band of the year - the Ligeti Quartet - doing a hour of seasonal music for all the family at Frith Hall in Sheffield.

A peculiar concoction of poems and various Christmas songs sung by the Sheffield University choir (including Joni Mitchell's 'River' which now seems to be an official Christmas carol) with suitably spiky quartet writing. Then a Malian folk tale with music adapted from West African balaphone music. An arrangement of a Tuvan throat music piece (with very jolly vocal grunts and shouts) - arranging Tuvan throat music for string quartet seems to be speciality of this quartet. Finally a reading of Dylan Thomas's 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' with the quartet providing musical illustrations along the way. 

All very jolly and perfect for the time of year. 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Minnesota Orchestra w/ Osmo Vanska, cond.; Alisa Weilerstein, cello

Chinese Images for Orchestra, Kalevi Aho 

Concerto for Cello in B minor, op. 104, Dvorak

Symphony No. 5, Sibelius

 

The first piece was pretty much lost on me, and judging by the tepid applause, most everyone else, too. Chinese dissonance delivered with volume. Heavy timpani. Muddy.

Sat eighth row, left center for this concert, which turned out to be directly in front of cellist, Weilerstein, for the Dvorak. Even at that, she was overwhelmed by the orchestra at times, where her fingers were flying but damed if I could make out the notes. The acoustic in our local barn is partly to blame, I'm afraid. The effect can be all the sound basically stays on the stage and doesn't project out.    

But ... things took a turn for the better after intermission with the Sibelius, which was top notch, played expertly. Almost seemed like a different band. The muddiness replaced by clarity, passion and fullness.

Sibelius is really a specialty of this orchestra, and what everyone came to hear anyways. A beautiful piece of course, so the Minnesotans acquitted themselves well on this score after a shaky first half. 

I've got Mozart's Requiem with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir coming up next month. Looking forward to that. 

 

 

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On 1/10/2017 at 2:47 AM, papsrus said:

Symphony No. 5, Sibelius

The first classical piece that clicked with me. I was initially captured by the tune in the last movement heard on the radio. A friend had a copy that I borrowed and played to death - then it was the brooding first movement that grabbed me. Up to that point my attempts at classical music - Mozart, Beethoven - had failed as it all seemed so dainty and appeared to come in kit form (obviously a complete misapprehension); there seemed to be something so organic in that opening Sibelius movement (equally misguided as it has a classical structure beneath the surface).  

Last Night

Shostakovich Symphony No. 8

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor - Nicholas Collon & Presenter - Stephen Johnson

Not one of the Shosty pieces that you see round these parts regularly. Actually the piece that first connected me to him in the early CD era after six or seven years of completely failing to engage with the 5th and 10th on LP (the 8th opened me to them). 

Unusual format for a concert. You frequently get pre-talks in concerts here. But on this occasion the talk was built into the concert itself. Stephen Johnson spent 45 minutes explaining and examining the symphony with the orchestra illustrating his points. This is something he has done for years on Radio 3 but I've never come across it in a concert situation. Absolutely fascinating - especially good at tracing how the phrases of the first few seconds are used and transformed to build the whole edifice. All done in plain English without getting over-technical or degenerating into 'connoisseur' mysticism. 

Which made the full performance after the break even more engaging with plenty of sign posts to listen out for. 

Not how I'd like most concerts to be but something I'd certainly attend every now and then. 
 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Heard this tonight from the DSO:

Karina Canellakis conducts
David Cooper horn

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8

R. STRAUSS Horn Concerto No. 1 

BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

Now there was a good time!

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I'm going to see Igor Levit play Beethoven (sonata no.14 "Moonlight" & Diabelli Variations) at the Concertgebouw next Friday.

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Just back from:

Jaap van Zweden conducts
Alisa Weilerstein cello

TCHAIKOVSKY

Variations on a Rococo Theme

BRUCKNER

Symphony No. 7

2nd time in a year-ish to hear Weilerstein, last year solo, tonight this. Not sure how "idiomatically correct" she is relative to Tchaikovsky (or if that is really relevant to this particular piece), but, yeah, bold, strong playing, fierce at times (especially during the cadenza), yet never overshadowing the orchestra nor detracting from the intricacies of the interactions. I'll see her every time I get a chance, believe me. Cello is da' bomb, I swear.

I also swear that Bruckner is like a fucking staring contest. But one worth playing. And I swear (dammit!), there were more than a few spots where I was like, whoa, you could sample this part right here, loop it, and be off in Minimalist Heaven asap. But you'd have to blink to get that done, and in  a staring contest, no, don't blink. I can't imagine what kind of a person/personality would write music like this, and I don't mean that in any kind of a negative way, just...curious. It's borderline obsessive/ramblling, but dammit, it holds together, all the time. Freaky in a very quiet way.

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Jaap van Zweden conducts
Emanuel Ax piano

ROUSE

Symphony No. 5 (World Premier)

BEETHOVEN

Piano Concerto No. 2

RESPIGHI

Pines Of Rome

Have never really felt Rouse's work, but this new Symphony was a kick in the ass to hear live. Seriously took me aback.

Ax was one of the most involving performers I've ever had the pleasure to hear live. Visually and musically. Will see him again if/whenever possible.

Pines of Rome still seems to me more like a postcard than a painting, never mind a photograph, but a damn well-made postcard it is.

Orchestras can play really fucking loud, and pianos are capable of incredibly nuanced response. That's the bullet-point summary for people who don't go to concerts and wonder what they might get out of it. For everybody else, hey, seemed like one of those "zone" nights to me. I mena a lot of the band was smiling during the last two pieces, and the first one, they were visibly thinking in unison. Audience members were actually, physically, leaning into the music. Usually I'm one of the few around me who does that, tonight, a lot of people were doing it. Not that that means anything really, point just being that there was a lot of communications going on in the hall. Love it when that happens!

 

 

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JSngry -- Van Zweden has a relatively recent Bruckner complete symphonies box out with the Netherlands Radio Phil. Haven't heard it, but that No. 7 is a trip. And you're right, re-listening to it after reading your impressions, there is a sort of minimalist (or hypnotic?) quality to it in parts. I think Bev has talked about how with Bruckner in general, the resolutions kind of -- take a looong time to resolve. 

Van Zweden (along with Barenboim) seems to be one of those who is not at all shy about doing a deep dive on Bruckner. I recall reading somewhere that Levine wouldn't touch him. (Not that he couldn't, but that he had no interest). And I get the impression Bruckner was somewhat rarely performed pre-80s. Certainly less so than he is now. I circle back to Celibidache for all things Bruckner. And in fact, Celi may deserve some credit for brining him into more prominence. Not sure.

On Ax, I heard him in NYC with the NYPhil in Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 a few years ago. A pro -- clean. Everything just right. To my mind, more along the lines of Mr. Dependable than Mr. I'm Going to Blow Your Mind. One of those guys who is constantly on stage, particularly in NYC. A go-to guy if you want everything buttoned down just right.

I'm sure once Van Zweden takes over in New York, he and Ax will be doing a lot of stuff together. 

 

Edited by papsrus

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Ax was a totally in the moment force on stage, fun to whatch while he was not playing, singing along with the music, with posture that was more Count Basie than Van Cliburn, just one loose cat with incredible chops. Best of both worlds, really, hthe natural body and the perfected playing. Very enjoyable for me, a bit of a trip in fact,

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Heard Boris Berman tonight at the Nasher doing Cage's Sonatas and Interludes...spellbinding music, really, simple/basic and endlessly complex all at once. Berman did not "top" Maro Ajemian's original recording imo, but you know, that was then, this is now, and if you ever get a chance to hear this music live, by all means do. It's intense.

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