John Adams: Hallelujah Junction
Fang Man: Pure White – Big Red ^
John Corigliano: Kaleidoscope
John Fitz Rogers: Ad Lucem ^
William Bolcom: The Garden of Eden: The Eternal Feminine – The Serpent’s Kiss
Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers (piano)
Recording: University of South Carolina School of Music Recital Hall, Columbia, South Carolina (June 15‑19, 2020) World Premiere Recording ^ – 50’35
MSR Classics MS 1804
Two hearts, four hands and one mind...daunting for some, but for Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers, their marriage back in 2005 provided them an extra-added innate edge when it comes to performing as a piano duo. “Fusion”, the couple’s second MSR Classics release in this category, features selections of stimulating pieces penned by 20th century composers, including two World Premiere Recordings. What’s nice about “Fusion” is that it has colorful contrasts and varied themes.
It takes a mathematical intellect to maneuver John Adams’ rhythmically-challenging Hallelujah Junction, a benediction of poise and control that gets carefully parceled out by these concert pianists. If performed in utmost precision, the Adams composition is absolutely mesmerizing and brilliantly stunning. Set against a similar, though tempered Philip Glass template, the ostinato is present with several turns of metamorphosis and endless surprises. Lomazov and Rackers handle the magnanimous transitions glowingly...such an unusual selection and wholly original!
For a nice divergence, the pentatonic rings immediately open Fang Man’s delicate Pure White that has a close Debussyian edge with the pianists treating it with utmost grace. The dichotomous Big Red follows along the line of minimal staccato structure, fugue‑like in sections, and it regales in a quirky-vivid Chinese abstract. Inventive!
Turning the page, the myriad of colorful geometrics that forever transition through an optical instrument is what John Corigliano adeptly manages to refract musically on the piano and in his reflections of Kaleidoscope. The Lomazov‑Rackers team approaches the piece with firm, assiduous control, methodical and consistent in their intent. There’s a beautiful Libra‑esque balance to the piece, allowing each pianist equal time in fairly equal measures. A sense of ragtime and contrapuntal relations commingle with determined fortitude. Charming and offbeat.
A pitch of startling contrasts, both severe and delicate at times, is what John Fitz Rogers integrates inside his Ad Lucem. M. Rogers dedicated this piece to the Lomazov‑Rackers Duo. Rogers turned to the financial crisis in 2007 as the musical backdrop for his composition. Despite its ominous subject matter, Ad Lucem brings forth a message of “shining hope and light” as the triumphant winner. Lomazov and Rackers recreate Rogers’ vision with unmitigated diplomacy.
“Fusion” moves back and forth between completely different textures, and in the closing segment we hear two of the fabulous Rag works by William Bolcom that are part of his The Garden of Eden collection. Compared to Spencer Myer’s 2017 Piano Rags, Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers give The Eternal Feminine and The Serpent’s Kiss an extra dose of caffeine. The broadly vibrant tempos fabulously conjure the “Silent Era” screen with excitement and pizzazz...an absolutely superb interpretation!
“Fusion” is filled with “layered resonances,” and it congeals beautifully. Supplied with an ample cache of variety is what “Fusion” is all about. Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers are masters in their game. Highly worth visiting!
Lomazov Rackers Piano Duo Website