BWW Reviews: TANYA BANNISTER, THE INTIMATE CONCERTOS
Pianist Tanya Bannister has managed to do something very rare with her new CD. She has taken the standard recital disc and remade it into something fresh and different. "The Intimate Concertos" is a collection of three lesser known works (but certainly not lesser works) by Mozart, Chopin and Shubert, and the arrangements and the recording of the works certainly live up to the title of the disc.
Digital recording has been around in the classical field for nearly thirty years now, yet very few classical recordings over the last few decades have actually benefitted from the truly unforgiving digital format. That is not the case with Ms. Bannister's new disc. The high quality of the recording brings a great immediacy and intimacy to the performances - and the performances are all first rate.
Programming a CD, much like programming a concert, is really an art unto itself. It continually mystifies how poorly record companies have done in that regard historically. The pairing of works, either thematically or chronologically can often produce jarring results and ultimately a disjointed listening experience. The three concertos on this disc (Mozart's Concerto No. 14 in E-flat, Chopin's Concerto No. 2 in F minor and Schubert's Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F) do have a certain sameness to them - that is not to say they are ponderous or too much alike, but rather that they complement one another very well.
The small ensemble that Ms. Bannister has assembled lithely support her and elevate the solo instrument in a way that full symphony orchestras often do not. The marriage of the strings with the piano is a happy one here, never a competition. Reducing a full symphonic score into a few representative broad stroke parts can certainly be a risky business but the single instruments representing sections of the orchestra here make for an inspired take on the material, ostensibly creating "chamber concertos" of the pieces. Each of the individual concertos as presented here are at once deceptively simple yet at the same time detailed and elaborate, and the quartet/quintet that Ms. Bannister has assembled is first rate through and through.
Ms. Bannister's playing is deft and detailed without being flashy. She handles the more technical passages with flair and efficiency, and in the slower softer movements, she brings out a wonderful array of colors and subtle nuances through thoroughly spacious and eloquent playing.
Given Ms. Bannister's status (she has performed as soloist with orchestras all over the world, won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in 2003 and the Gold Medal at the New Orleans International Piano Competition in 2005) listeners can only hope that "The Intimate Concertos" won't be a "one-off," but rather a sign of more good things to come.
For more information: tanyabannister.com