Anne Akiko Meyers – "Seasons… dreams …" – Music by DEBUSSY, WAGNER, BEETHOVEN, GENE PRITSKER, GERSHWIN, VERNON DUKE, JOSEPH KOSMA, SCHNITTKE, and FAURE – Anne Akiko Meyers, violin/ Reiko Uchida, piano/ Emmanuel Ceysson, harp – E One 7780, 63 mins. ****:
The importance of this new faux crossover, totally classical music release from Anne Akiko Meyers and her current partners in crime, E One and pianist Reiko Uchida, has been suddenly amplified by her acquisition of a new Strad and her appearance on Keith Olbermann’s hot cable show.
The repertoire continues Meyers’ “concept” of surrounding an embedded major piece by mostly lighter stuff. Here Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata” is surrounded by softballs like Debussy’s "Clair de lune,” Gershwin’s "Summertime" (in Heifetz’s cool, tender arrangement) and Faure’s "Apres une reve.” Her performance of Alfred Schnittke’s scary take on “Silent Night” is perfect for Halloween.
The Beethoven performance is sui generis, touched with poetry whenever Reiko Uchida is playing, and when Meyers finds something in the music to respond to personally. Check out Meyers’ mysterious entrance in the slow movement for what turns her on.
The recording, made at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, captures the sound of the Fazioli grand with emotion and gorgeous sound. Playback note: This recording takes volume tremendously well and blossoms into sensational sound that will make modest set-ups sound excellent, and audiophile systems sound spectacular.
The liner notes chart the course of the “sensual affair” the album is intended to explore, “a musical journey that begins with a gentle dreamscape and ends with the languorous longings of a nocturnal reverie under moonlight.” If this sounds like heavy stuff, don’t worry; the listening is much easier.
Up front, it must be made clear that for this recording Meyers used the Strad she left behind, dated 1730, once belonging to the King of Spain. As everybody knows by now, she has a new $3.6 million Strad, dated 1697, called the “Molitor” and once owned by another monarch, Napoleon. She debuted with the new Strad on October 23 playing Samuel Barber’s Concerto in Ambassador Auditorium, with the Pasadena Symphony conducted by James DePreist.
Since Meyers’ next recording will undoubtedly be with the new Strad, you’ll be able to do an A-B comparison. An audiophile’s dream come true!
— Laurence Vittes