January 11, 2015

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New Release: DISTANCE with James Austin Smith (oboe)

TwoPianists Records brings you an elegant disc by oboist James Austin Smith in collaboration with pianist Luis Magalhaes and harpist Bridget Kibbey. Most of the works on this disc are, upon first listen, foreign to ears accustomed to a diet of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn. They are on the chilly periphery of classical music, abrasively private and unrevealing in comparison to their gregarious, largely romantic neighbors. But if they were truly unrelatable, truly alien, they would lack humanity - they would reject curiosity and remain forever opaque. And this is where the beauty of recording is embodied - to the keen, curious ear these works reveal themselves. They shed their frosty outer layer and expose a warmth of expression, a depth of atmosphere and a technicolor palette that rewards unlike any instant-gratification work of art. The work will draw you from being a tolerant (or perhaps even intolerant) neighbor, across its threshold, into a welcoming, if not complex environment. It will foster a deep friendship.

‘There is no underlying rhyme or reason to the selection of the works on this disc - each of them simply speak to me in a way most other works don’t, or at least haven’t yet. It wasn’t until I was rattling them off to a friend in Germany, my laundry list of recordables, that I was made to realize that these works, disparate in style and era, were actually spiritually linked to one another. This friend remarked upon a “gewisser Distanz” - a certain kind of distance -that characterizes most of the works on this disc - most notably the pieces of Krenek, Hindemith and Carter. This “Distanz” to which he refers has a particular meaning in German - a kind of “unapproachableness” or removed quality which resists immediate engagement, humor or even enjoyment.’
(James Austin Smith)


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