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"Sometimes, the way he plays with the sound of a single note has enough emotional sustenance in it to launch a half-dozen distinct feelings in quick succession." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The cellist’s variable tone ... sometimes seems almost vocal in its ability to morph into different timbres."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"transcendentally gorgeous"
--Manhattan User's Guide

"Grabois' tone is rich, then pungent and penetrating." --Audiophilia

"Their lines are as transparent as glass, yet are fused with a tender warmth."
--The Glens Falls Post-Star

"...utterly pellucid, and unerringly shaped."
--Bay Area Reporter




July 2003

Music for Cello and Piano
Music by Beethoven, Debussy and Rachmaninov Adam Grabois, cello -- John Nauman, piano
Reflex Editions
Playing Time: 55:27

Anthony Kershaw

In these days of dwindling classical audiences and limited recording opportunity, self-publishing has becoming the norm, especially in the classical, jazz and book worlds. If it was good enough for Charles Dickens, I guess it is good enough for the rest of us. When listening to this initial recording from Reflex Editions, it was a little sad to realize, however, that if Messrs. Grabois and Nauman had not had the energy and gumption to set the ball rolling, their exceptional talents may never have been heard in the mainstream. Lucky for us the energy level and passion of youngsters such as these infuses the general malaise of the music industry.

The nicely-packaged CD gets off to a pleasant start with Beethoven's 7 Variations in Eb major on 'Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen' from Mozart's The Magic Flute. This fairly innocuous Beethoven has moments of brilliance, and the gentle manner in which he sets Mozart's melody is brought out most musically by both cellist and pianist. The next piece is a quantum leap from the Variations. The Debussy Cello Sonata is a major work for the instrument and Grabois offers a fine performance. Although not erasing the memory of Rostropovich and Piatigorsky's sound, Grabois' tone is rich, then pungent and penetrating when required. Great pizzicato, too. After this impressionistic gem, Nauman and Grabois give a superb rendition of Rachmaninov's G minor Sonata. Although Stravinsky described Rachmaninov as a walking, six-foot scowl, this masterful piece has its composer writing with great passion and has moments of joy and exultation.

Each of the performances is first-rate, the Swarthmore-trained cellist singing the cello lines ever so musically and the Juilliard grad pianist accompanying where necessary and taking a magical solo part when called upon. To capture such elegant performances while raising money, editing and mixing tape, organizing liner notes, producing packaging, arranging distribution and delivery is no mean feat!

The interesting thing about Grabois' venture is the complete control he allows (will be allowing) the musicians over every aspect of recording, producing and editing. As this is the first release, it'll be interesting to hear future CDs with other musicians -- I am sure Grabois will keep his promise of allowing the individual artist complete control. With this in mind, I'm sure the roster of artists Reflex chooses will be first-class.

The actual recording is fairly dry (and detailed), but with the players set in an 'honest' space. A 'no-fiddling' policy seemed to be the order of the day here. As such, Da-Hong Seetoo has recorded a winner. Presence and fidelity go hand in hand.

Let's hope that Reflex and others similar in nature thrive in this brave new classical music world. The industry needs them. And congratulations to both Grabois and Nauman for recording a gem.

Copyright © 2003 AUDIOPHILIA


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