Sunday, August 8, 2010

In review--Fantastico Fazioli!

Benjamim Taubkin
Piano Masters Series vol. I
Adventure Music

Fazioli pianos represent the Rolls Royce of keyboards. Designed and produced in Italy, this particular piano is out of the price range of non-millionaires. I had heard of Fazioli pianos, but never actually heard one until Benjamim Taubkin’s performance as part of Adventure Music’s Piano Master Series. As far as I can tell, a variety of pianists were set up in the Fazioli Studio in New York City and the results I’m certain will delight even the most discerning tastes. Marrying gifted pianist/composers with these gorgeous sounding instruments proves ingenuous. As a lover of pianos I have found great pleasure in immersing myself in Taubkin’s music. I feel spoiled by such pleasure.

As I listened to the recording I thought that Taubkin must give himself goose bumps when he composes this ethereal music. I know I was feeling chills running up and down my spine while listening to this collection of songs. The melody that runs through Around Estacio from Amado Maita recalls Baden-Powell’s Afro-Sambas. And if you listen to this track, and all the tracks through headphones, you will hear a faint hum that turns out to be Taubkin singing along with the piano. This reminded me of the late Glenn Gould’s piano recordings since he also sang along with his piano, though not in the most tuneful voice. This leaves me wondering how many pianists follow this practice.

Taubkin performs a rendition of the John Coltrane’s chestnut, Giant Step. Here you hear it played on solo piano and the results are so captivating, you won’t miss the other instruments. The album opens with the solemn Around the Influences, but then on the second track, The Melody and the Seed, the piano takes flight as a quick ditty that sounds like a cross between J.S. Bach and nostalgic Brazilian jazz radiates from keys.

If the remainder of the series exudes with this much power then bring on the recordings. It’s not every day we get to hear a pianist lock himself alone in a studio filled with Fazioli pianos. Taubkin even refers to his experience as like hanging out “in a house of toys that come to life after the sun goes down.” The listener will definitely feel the magic conjured out of these perfect instruments. I send out kudos to Richard Zirinsky Jr. and Jim Luce for this brilliant brainchild.

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