These are wonderful performances, full of the flair that made Stern famous. I was glad Sony chose this particular version of the Tchaikovsky with Ormandy and the Philadelphians for his "Life in Music" series, rather than Stern's later version with Berstein and the NYPO. This earlier recording captures Stern with more spontaneity and displays his virtuosity to greater effect. The faster passages of the Tchaikovsky are handled with ease, even at speeds faster than normally heard.
Recorded live at the Moscow Conservatory, this is a truly legendary performance. Any experienced veteran could be proud of it; that a boy of 12 should possess the necessary technique, the musical understanding and maturity, and the sustained concentration, is almost beyond belief. Reveling in his own limitless virtuosity, Kissin seems to be playing with as well as on the piano with elfin grace and delicacy; yet his command of the keyboard his warm, singing, powerful, varied tone are only tools for expressing his spontaneous response to the music.
Three tracks to note on this companion to the hit cyberthriller: 1) A funky and inconsequential debut by the David Byrne-less Talking Heads (now just The Heads) featuring Deborah Harry; 2) A mesmerizing, The The-like tune ("A Big Day in the North") marking the American debut of Black Grape, the promising new venture for Happy Mondays founder Shaun Ryder; and 3) "Party Man", a trademark mid-tempo Peter Gabriel yawner co-written to no apparent effect by Tori Amos.
In a futuristic, high-tech world run by huge corporations, Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) is an L.A. policeman serving time for killing the psychotic who murdered his wife and child. Lindenmeyer (Stephen Spinella), a Dr. Frankenstein of the computer era, has created a monster, Sid 6.7 (Russell Crowe), a virtual reality entity which is programmed with the character traits of scores of mass murderers. Sid 6.7 has escaped the control of its creator and is now running amok. The privatized police force in charge of keeping the peace in the city is run by Elizabeth Deane (Louise Fletcher). Barnes has volunteered to test a new criminal tracking system based on a virtual reality device. His job is to find Sid 6.7, with the help of psychologist Madison Carter (Kelly Lynch). Barnes gets out of prison and reinstated to the police force to pursue his dangerous prey.