Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Frightening, cathartic and celebratory

From July 2, 2011:


Violinist/composer Ittai Shapira has written an intensely personal work with a programme that's frightening, cathartic, and celebratory. But Concierto Latino stands by itself as a completely self-contained and deeply satisfying violin concerto.

Shapira's story begins in January 2005 in New York, when he was attacked by a group of thugs on the street. Though he was released from hospital the next day, the psychic and neurological effects of the incident were significant, and Shapira worked through them in musical fashion. The result, two years later, was this splendid violin concerto.

The first movement, "The Attack", presents the aftermath of the incident, the sounds Shapira hears in his head. The music is intense, at times brutal, as music unlocks his memories of the attack. The second movement, "Lament", is about reflection and catharsis. The upbeat "Party" celebrates the end of the long journey Shapira has taken through his art.

The music is Latin in its broadest sense. The influences in this piece represent pretty much the whole range of popular and classical music from Iberia and Latin America, but this is no pot-pourri. The piece has a musical logic of its own, and it's presented in a most appealing package of dance rhythms, orchestral color, and a virtuosic but still deeply melodic solo violin line. This is a "CD single" from Champs Hill Records, containing 26 minutes of music. But the work makes such an impression and packs in so much incident and beauty that I would cheerfully pay full price for it.

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