Arnold Steinhardt, longtime leader of the famed Guarneri Quartet, has selected some of his favorite works from the twentieth century. While I can’t fault the playing of such an artist, who seems to be still in complete control of his game, I can’t say that I am especially enamored with his choice of music. These are obviously very personal favorites, and as such are often wedded to the particular peculiarities of any artist who plays them at different times and circumstances and finds them attractive for reasons only known to him. While it is nice to have the early Foss, Bernstein, and Copland pieces, one cannot hope to say that they are in any way great pieces of music, though they do have their attractions.
Bennett’s Hexapoda has always been a crowd pleaser. And Steinhardt does it justice here. The three dance based works, one dedicated to Steinhardt, another by his brother, and a third coming from his work with Roberta Gaspari’s East Harlem violin program, are each tuneful and clever, but fail to make a lasting impression except in the context of some good times violin throw offs that often scatter the encores of players looking to lighten up the mood once the Beethoven is over. Taken on these terms, this is certainly a recommendable album—the sound and musicianship are first rate—though one must give careful consideration to the content before purchasing.
— Steven Ritter