An idiosyncratic, girlish voice, snappy, flawless deliverance, and an irrepressible sense of light-hearted swing made Blossom Dearie one of the most pleasant singers of the vocal era. Her tenderness and glisten ensured that she'd never treat standards as the well-worn songs they often appeared in less competent hands. And though her reputation was made on record with a string of excellent albums for Verve during the '50s, she remained a draw with Manhattan cabaret audiences long into the new millennium.
Igor Levit makes his debut on Sony in the last six piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, a part of the repertoire that is usually reserved for mature artists, not rising stars. Yet in spite of some signs of youthful enthusiasm, and a possible loss of objectivity from playing these pieces on a busy recital schedule, Levit has a good feeling for Beethoven's late style, and his 2013 release is a promising beginning for his recording career. The excessive use of rubato is something Levit should watch, because too much alteration of the tempo dissipates Beethoven's energy, and even though these sonatas have their moments of reverie and trance-like passages that can be interpreted as mystical experiences, too much elasticity can make them seem like idle daydreams, or worse, forgetfulness.
The famous Russian pianist-composer, who became an American citizen in 1958, was as well known in 1930s Paris as Stravinsky and heir to a number of Slav cultures in Europe and Asia. In the course of long visits, he also analysed the music of the Far East (China, Japan, Korea…), endeavouring to find a common language in the various folklores he discovered.