SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Mosh Pit – One Piano, Four Hands [TrackList follows] – Zofo – Sono Luminus (audio-only Blu-ray + CD)


Published on June 7, 2013

Mosh Pit – One Piano, Four Hands [TrackList follows] – Zofo (Keisuke Nakagoshi & Eva-Maria Zimmermann, piano) – Sono Luminus Pure Audio Blu-ray (7.1, 5.1 or 2.0)  + standard CD DSL-92167, 76:31 (4/30/13) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

Another fine two-disc album from Sono Luminus, with a better combination to my mind than the two-disc sets from 2L which are audio-only Blu-ray plus SACD. This one is audio-only Blu-ray plus a standard CD for playing on other CD-only decks in your home, car or portably.

This release follows on last year’s first album for Sono Luminus by Zofo, Mind Meld. The piano-four-hands team probably has a lot fewer problems giving concerts than piano duo teams, though one doesn’t get the interesting spatial separation of two keyboards in these works. Nevertheless, there is a clean and beautifully realistic portrayal of both pianists at the keyboard of their Steinway Model D Concert Grand. Not many music Blu-rays offer a 192K/24bit option, though it is only 5.1 channels (I happen to think the typical 7.1 speaker layout is silly). For 7.1 channels it is reduced to 96K/24bit—plenty good enough hi-res for my older ears. Then there is also a 192K/24bit Stereo PCM option.

Zofo has put together another program of high energy piano-4-hands works by 20th century composers.  The only direct effort to slant it more towards Gen X listeners is the album’s title, Mosh Pit.  Feelings of both jazz and pop enter into most of the six works. The accent is on various strong rhythms and dances, opening with Gershwin’s Cuban-rhythm Overture, followed by the four-hand arrangement of Nancarrow’s Sonatina. That was the first solo piano piece the composer had written after he moved to Mexico in 1940 to get away from the anti-Communist frenzy in the U.S. But since he didn’t play the piano himself the piece was virtually impossible to play, and didn’t work at all until he transferred its complex rhythmic patterns to a piano roll.

Samuel Barber’s Souvenirs is one of his lightest works, and was originally written for piano-4-hands. It was inspired by the music he and his mother heard at NYC’s Plaza Hotel Palm Court. Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances was also originally written for piano-4-hands, and its title was suggested by the village green pavilions in small towns where band concerts were given on summer evenings. Allen Shawn is the brother of actor Wallace Shawn. His Three Dance Portraits were also written for piano-4-hands. The first  one is jazzy with a Bartokian Hungarian feeling, the second has a Latin influence, and the last blends rock ‘n roll with dissonant harmonies. The Shoenfield work is the longest on the album, and the composer says he wrote it during a particularly sullen point in his life, after a series of incidents had happened to him, and he was especially cynical about late 20th century concert music. Its concluding “Boogie” movement is great fun and a rousing finish to this unique recital.

TrackList: GERSHWIN: Cuban Overture; CONLON NANCARROW: Sonatina; SAMUEL BARBER: Souvenirs; JOHN CORIGLIANO: Gazebo Dances; ALLEN SHAWN: Three Dance Portraits; PAUL SCHOENBIELD: Five Days from the Life of a Manic Depressive

—John Sunier




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