Though a pupil of the great orchestrator Rimsky-Korsakov, and in turn a teacher to the likes of Rachmaninov, Glière, and Scriabin, Anton Arensky himself is a composer often forgotten when contemplating the Russian greats. Productive in many genres, it is perhaps in his chamber music that this unduly neglected composer truly shines. His writing has much of the same textural sophistication and melodic beauty as his close friend, Tchaikovsky. In fact, the theme on which the Second Quartet's Variations are based is drawn from a Tchaikovsky quartet. Performing Arensky's First and Second string quartets, along with the Piano Quintet, is the Ying Quartet. This ensemble's playing is characterized by a surprisingly precise, consistent uniformity of sound and exactness of articulation, making it seem as if a single instrument were playing as opposed to four independent parts. All aspects of their technical execution are polished and refined, which only enhances their equally enjoyable musical effusiveness, rich, deep tone, and understanding of Arensky's scores that casts them in the best possible light.
It is a pleasure to see the rerelease of Paul Beier's first effort on the Baroque Lute, recorded in a small church in Switzerland nearly twenty years ago. He had originally planned a program that included the works presented here, plus the suite in E minor by Bach, but after editing we found that the total time of the recording was over 90 minutes, and so sacrificed the Bach suite to be able to release the CD (which can hold no more than 80 minutes worth of music).
Greg Howe's new album, "Wheelhouse", which is due out later this year, marks a highly anticipated return to his solo instrumental work. It features Greg Howe at his best along with an appearance from guitar legend, Richie Kotzen (Winery Dogs, Mr. Big). Described by Howe as his most personal work to date, the album is destined to again set the bar for guitarists everywhere. Musical trends may come and go, but you always know what's in store with a new Greg Howe release, and this veteran shredder certainly won't disappoint with this breathtaking showcase as one of the best rock/fusion players in the world.