Keyboard ace Dan Siegel's music has "contemporary chic" written all over it. Having worked a smooth seam for decades and crafted a fair amount of music for television and film, he knows a thing or two about putting together a tight arrangement, pulling from different stylistic sources, contracting the right players for a job, and producing a record with nary a rough edge to be seen. All of that knowledge and all of those skills were put to good use in the act of creating Origins.
Maria Szymanowska Piano Duo is formed by two pianist associated with the Academy of Music in Łódź. The guiding thought of the joint activity adopted by the artists is to promote Polish music and works of less known composers, whose pieces are gradually being forgotten. Polish music, to which the present CD including four hands piano music is dedicated, occupies a special place in their output.
Most listeners will never have heard the name Ivan Khandoshkin (1747-1804), but violinist Anastasia Khitruk has admirably undertaken to bring this little-known solo-violin repertoire to wider attention. Published in the early years of the 19th century, Khandoshkin’s Op. 3 sonatas show the influences we might expect, given the composer’s exposure to a court musical environment that included musicians from Italy, Germany, and France.
Trumpeter Don Ellis (1934-1978) led one of the most memorable big bands of all time; actually several of them. During 1965-1975, his orchestras blazed their own unusual path, becoming famous for their utilization of ridiculously complex time signatures (seven/four and nine/four were commonplace for those musicians), a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments, and a crazy sense of humor. Milcho Leviev's musical career in the United States began when he emigrated from Bulgaria in 1971 to join Don Ellis' band. Leviev found the unusual time signatures to be second nature and he was featured on "Bulgarian Bulge."