Elegant jazzy renditions of Christmas favorites for violin and piano.
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Violinist Jasper Wood has established himself as a major talent, capturing the hearts of music lovers everywhere with his “thrilling virtuosity” (The Strad) and his “sweet tunefulness edged in melancholy” (Washington Post).
The New York Concert review spoke of David Riley's “absolutely exquisite technique” and the Billings Gazette called him “a soloist’s dream, star quality, gifted and sensitive.”
Together the duo has recorded six duo CDs over their twenty years of collaboration. They received the 2004 East Coast Music Award ‘Best Classical Recording’ for a CD of works for violin and piano of Igor Stravinsky. And their recitals continue to garner rave reviews.
Composer/arranger Terry Vosbein is equally at home in classical and jazz worlds and has a "dramatic, jazzy feel and fine understanding of how to improve on a brilliant original," according to Marc Myers at JazzWax.Com.
The three of them met at the Cleveland Institute of Music and two decades later they combined forces to create the most memorable Christmas recording to come along in years.
Last month’s column covered the new Christmas CDs that sounded good to me, and I had not planned on covering any more, but then along came Stradivarius Christmas (Max Frank Music – 004), and it is too good to put off until next year. Violinist JASPER WOOD and pianist DAVID RILEY perform 16 tracks of seasonal music arranged by TERRY VOSBEIN. The album is an interesting stylistic mixture of jazz and classical influences. The program has some traditional carols like “Away in a Manger” combined with “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear;” a sampling of lesser heard carols such as “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella” and “Fum Fum Fum;” a few songs more seasonal than Christmas, “Jingle Bells” and “Auld Lang Syne;” and a sprightly original piece by Vosbein, “A Christmas Rag.” Wood and Riley are a well matched pair, and Vosbein’s musical settings are original and fun. Stradivarius Christmas will be a frequent visitor to our CD player this Christmas season.
Perhaps the most engaging of this year’s classically oriented holiday recordings is “Stradivarius Christmas.” Starting with a sonata setup — Jasper Wood on violin, David Riley on piano — Terry Vosbein’s settings fancifully spin romantic riffs and jazz forms out of carols and medleys in a way that keeps the listener guessing. The duo open with a lively ragtime feel, chugging pizzicato beat and virtuoso digressions for “O Tannenbaum.” Other highlights include a blues rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman” and a bossa nova take on “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with a feisty interlude between verses and commanding high whistling violin. A disappointment is “Jingle Bells,” probably never meant to be a ballad.
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