Quarttro Mani – More than Lounge Lizards

I love everything about this release. The performances are top-notch, and the theme is focused. Yet within that focus is an amazing variety of compositions and styles.

This recording is with the new Quattro Mani duo piano team (Steven Beck replaced retiring Alice Rybak in 2013). Though the Susan Grace/Steven Beck chemistry is slightly different than that of Grace/Rybak, there’s no diminution in quality. The Quattro Mani perform with a single vision, and all the virtuosity and energy the program demands.

“Lounge Lizards” features piano 4-hands works by (mostly) contemporary American composers. It’s a program that delights, challenges, and ultimately entertains the listener.

The most challenging work is the oldest: Charles Ives’ 1925 “Three Quarter-Tone Pieces.” In context, though, it seemed like a work that finally found its own time. As played by Grace and Beck the work has a beautifully expressive quality.

Fred Lerdahl’s “Quiet Music” opens the program. Though quiet, motifs move in and out of phase with each other, creating a restlessness and forward motion that carries all the way through the 13-minute piece.

John Musto’s unabashedly neo-romantic “Passacaglia” seems to be music written by a pianist for pianists. And it sounds like a great deal of fun to play.

“Of Risk and Memory” by Arlene Sierra is a more introspective work, with the two pianists seemingly playing against each other. For me, the tension this conflict generates made this work one of the most engaging on the album.

The title track, “Lounge Lizards,” documents Michael Daugherty’s somewhat checkered past with four cocktail piano bars. Of course, this is Daugherty, so the lounge music is more than just lounge music.

It’s actually a well-constructed four-movement work that uses the language of Muzak to say something far more substantial. Kudos to percussionists John Kinzie and Michael Tetreault for their sometimes ironic, sometimes cheezy, yet always appropriate interpretations to Daughtery’s score.

I love this album.

Quattro Mani: Lounge Lizards
Steven Beck, Susan Grace, duo piano
Works by: Fred Lerdahl, John Musto, Charles Ives, Arlene Sierra, Michael Daugherty
Bridge Records 9486

More Recent Posts

  • New Jazz & Blues News – 9/28/2021

    New Jazz & Blues News – 9/28/2021 New Jazz News: Andrew Cyrille – The News (ECM): “It would be tempting to say that, at 81, Andrew Cyrille has probably forgotten more than most drummers have ever learned about stretching tempo and creating space for improvisers to thrive in – that is, if it didn’t do […]

  • #ClassicsaDay #SymYesNo Week 3

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    For the month of September, the Classics a Day team chose a controversial theme. There is a small subset of symphonic works within the classical repertoire that appear misnamed. Most composers choose their titles carefully. But when the title runs counter to expectations, disagreements arise. What does the title “symphony” mean? Can a composition be […]

  • WTJU Jazz Profile: David Eisenman

    Tags:

    For decades, David Eisenman has served as WTJU’s Jazz Director, coordinating the department “as loosely as humanly possible,” as he puts it. He insists on responsible broadcasting, but with passion for the music and the love to share it. “Big in my playbook is diversity in the genre,” says David. “I have always attempted to make the umbrella […]

  • Stephen Pollock digs into Cherry Red, September 30

    Tags: , , , , ,

    Stephen Pollock, guitarist and leader of Cherry Red, the best Rolling Stones cover band in central Virginia, will join the Juddermeister on Induced to Judder September 30th at 9pm. Stephen will be promoting a special show the band will be performing paying tribute to Charlie Watts who recently passed away. This event will be held […]

  • WTJU Jazz Profile: Louise Largiader

    Tags:

    For Louise Largiader, WTJU was something of a slippery slope. First, she was a longtime listener. Then she started donating to the Marathons. Then answering phones during them. She says she never thought she’d be on the radio, but she made the jump to on-air DJ a few years ago. Here at the station, we’re so glad […]