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on 16 January 2002
I keep on returning to this. The selection is complex and challenging and it can be a bit overwhelming if listened from start to finish in one go. I find it better to listen to individual tracks or two or three together. This has been revelatory: it proves that pieces from hugely different times and traditions can sit with each other brilliantly - modern C20th music in all it's glory with a jewel-like piece from Byrd or Bach.This disk makes it all accessible and enjoyable, no doubt due in no small measure to Macgregor's sublime musicality. One for personal pleasures rather than sharing, perhaps.
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on 13 December 2001
I first heard of Joanna MacGregor when a she appeared on the BBC's 'Southbank Show'. The programme was about the making of this album. I purchased the album the following weekend. The variety of the music is incredible from early right through to present day - yet it all fits together so well. The actual performance is very moving and quite different from the approach a more traditional pianist might take. If you are a big fan of Piano music and are open minded to modern composers, this album is a must have.
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on 2 December 2002
It's great that Joanna is recording contemporary composers and the concept/layout/text/design of the cd is very cool. Getting the South Bank show documentary about it was obviously a master stroke. We had dozens of people coming in (I work in a well known high street music shop) to buy it the next day, though lots of them were only interested to know if she had more Bach recordings. Her performance of the older music has a sensitivity that maybe some of the newer pieces lack, but she is also a very powerful performer. Yes, Joanna is definitely a first rate pianist (though her composition lacks depth I'm afraid) and it's such a valid thing she is doing here. However I was annoyed by the production quality here and there (surely we cannot tolerate fuzz on new recordings) oh and some of the sampled 'beats' that she plays along to are just terrible, sorry. I just don't understand why someone with an obvious understanding of rhythm would use 80s style beats. The Piazzolla piece with the recording of his voice within it is puzzling. It sounds as if they just have it playing in the room where Joanna is performing. Why didn't they mix it with the recording more confidently? It doesn't sound like a purposeful part of the performance at all here, just a superficial gimmick to distract from the repetitive nature of the track. You may want it vague and fuzzy but at least it should really intergrate with the piece. Too much style/attitude and not enough perfectionist craft I think. Mostly the musical content is of a high standard I just have big problems with the production overall. I haven't decided yet whether to keep it or return it...
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on 26 October 2002
This CD has an incredible range of styles and periods, but all of the pieces are easily accessible, enjoyable and flow naturally with no sense of being dis-jointed. As a lute player I originally bought this CD to hear the Dowland "Forlorn Hope Fancy". This fabulous piece sounds more like Bach when played brilliantly by Joanna on the piano,and the complexity of the contrapuntal writing shows Dowlands genius,amazingly over 100 years before Bach.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable CD that hasn't been out of the car CD player yet.
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on 31 August 2013
Superb mix of Renaissance and modern music - Joanna excels both in Byrd and in Nancarrow plus others less familiar.
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on 28 September 2004
Very good performing by Joanna, and such a lovely, no inspired selection of pieces! I really love this CD - BUT, the production quality really lets this down!!!! Don't listen to this CD with headphones - this is not overly critical as it really interferes with the enjoyment of this otherwise excellent CD. just a plea to record labels to get the recording right to do justice to the performer, and also the music!
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