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Music of Astor Piazzolla and Frank Proto
     

Music of Astor Piazzolla and Frank Proto

by Merling Trio
 
The Merling Trio could certainly have picked a less crowded field to enter into with its third CD outing and first for Centaur, Music of Astor Piazolla and Frank Proto. Argentine composer Astor Piazolla is one of the most recorded figures among classical composers born after 1920, and although a lot of that attention has only come in the early 2000s, it has

Overview

The Merling Trio could certainly have picked a less crowded field to enter into with its third CD outing and first for Centaur, Music of Astor Piazolla and Frank Proto. Argentine composer Astor Piazolla is one of the most recorded figures among classical composers born after 1920, and although a lot of that attention has only come in the early 2000s, it has resulted in a considerable number of recordings. Nonetheless, these are some outstanding interpretations of Piazolla, and the Merling Trio should be credited with taking into the studio something it does well, rather than trying to prepare another thing for purposes of recording that's not fully baked. However, the real focus of this release should be placed on the excellent "Quartet for piano and strings" of Frank Proto, who has long been regarded as perhaps the finest composer belonging to Cincinnati, OH, since Gunther Schuller was in town, but remains little known outside of the former "Queen City." In this latter work, the Merling Trio is joined by string bassist Tom Knific, resulting in the seldom, if ever, used chamber combination of violin, cello, piano, and string bass. Knific is able to switch out of the typically bowed role of the string bass in chamber music to the pizzicato voicing that we know from jazz, and this piece as a whole represents a highly successful -- one hastens to use this word -- fusion of jazz and Western Expressionism. In this sense, it does vaguely resemble a work of Schuller's, "Conversation," written for the Modern Jazz Quartet and the Beaux Arts String Quartet back in the '50s, but with two huge differences. The two ensembles, and styles, are pitted directly against one another in Schuller's work, whereas Proto achieves the same sense of duality with one, and Proto also manages to attain a seamless and fluid combination of jazz and expressionist scoring, whereas Schuller, in 1958, is satisfied after achieving a mixture that's roughly oil and water. It is also worth mentioning that the last movement evokes a little of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in the final send-off, so what's not to like about that? The Merling Trio is based out of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. This disc was recorded on campus at the university's Dalton Center, and the recording is a cut well above the usual out-of-house production that Centaur incorporates into its release schedule from time to time. Music of Astor Piazolla and Frank Proto is a fun disc and will prove rewarding to listeners who are looking for something different, but comprehensible within the means of most tastes.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/28/2006
Label:
Centaur
UPC:
0044747276328
catalogNumber:
2763

Tracks

  1. La Muerte del ángel, tango (from Ángel series)
  2. Milonga del ángel, tango (from Ángel series)
  3. Cuatro estaciónes porteñas (The Four Seasons), tango cycle
  4. Revolucionario, tango
  5. Oblivion, tango
  6. Quartet for piano & strings

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