Sunday 31 January 1999
Michel Petrucciani: Solo Live (Dreyfus Jazz). The French pianist died of pneumonia aged 36 on 6 January, and his latest album has become a memorial to his genius. He really was a genius in the classic Paganini mould: delightful music dripped from his fingers like water, and he just couldn't stop the flow. Ironically this became a serious problem, for solo concerts presented such an embarrassment of riches that - for the listener - the relentless brilliance could become tiring. This 1997 solo concert from Frankfurt is relatively restrained and there's a continual stream of wonders. There's sadness too, because while Petrucciani was with us, we never really knew what to do with him. It might be a lifetime before his like comes round again. Phil Johnson
Piazzolla: Maria de Buenos Aires. Kremerata (Teldec). Gidon Kremer's past efforts to corral the Latin, tango-culture scores of Astor Piazzolla into Anglo-Saxon classical repertory have always struck me as worthwhile and fun, but never quite seized my interest as this new release does. It's a tango operetta, steeped in dense poetic metaphor that defies explanation, but roughly concerns an Argentine Carmen, part goddess, part whore, who is tango personified. In the course of the narrative she is born, takes to the streets, dies, and is resurrected. It really would be too much but for the intoxicating sensuality of Piazzolla's music. A curiosity: unclassifiable but with a stylish self-assurance that would need no label even if it had one.
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