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CD LISTENING POST
BRIEF REVIEWS OF SELECT RELEASES

Pop

Moby, Hotel (V2). Moby called his new album "Hotel," he tells us in the liner notes, because he's fascinated with the temporal nature of hotel rooms, and the manner in which all the intimacies and major life moments that transpire in them are wiped clean every 24 hours, so that the next temporary tenants can take their place. Apparently, the singer loves the sense of existential tabula rasa the hotel room represents, but he then makes a point of telling us that "I want to make messy, human records that are open and emotional." In the past, few would accuse Moby of making "messy" records; his were, in fact, quite white, clean and neat, like . . . well, freshly scrubbed hotel rooms. But "Hotel" finds the man offering his most straightforward, emotional recording to date, and handling the lion's share of the vocals himself. He's hardly a virtuoso vocalist, but he makes the most of what he's got, and as a result "Hotel" is immensely pleasing, a hodgepodge of dance rhythms, chant-styled vocals, and moody atmospherics. Quite nice, this. Review: 3 stars (Out of 4) (Jeff Miers)

Jazz

Gary Burton, Next Generation (Concord). If you can't trust Gary Burton to be a great talent scout for young jazz masters-in-the-making, you can't trust anyone. No one now alive does it with more elan (among the dead, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Betty Carter and Stan Getz remain supreme). It doesn't hurt to be jazz's great living vibraphonist either. In the Burton group guitar lineage that once gave us Larry Coryell, John Scofield and Path Metheny, we've got young Julian Lage, who Burton has been playing with (off and on, of course) since Lage was 12. Burton's whole quintet here is first-rate. Pianist Vadim Neselovsky, in particular, contributes the breeziest version of "My Romance" you've ever heard. No one burns down the house here, but sparks do fly. Review: 3 stars (Jeff Simon)

Classical

Francois Couperin, Les Concerts Royaux performed by Le Concert Des Nations led by Jordi Savall (Alia Vox). The great Catalonian viola da gambist, conductor and tireless early music advocate Jordi Savall will perform with Montserrat Figueras in Kleinhans Music Hall at 8 p.m. April 12. In the meantime, the latest disc on his own personal label, Alia Vox, is an intimate, detailed traversal of music by one of the suavest of Bach's contemporaries (and, therefore, one of the reasons that Bach in his own time was considered passe). Couperin left the instrumentation of these chamber pieces unspecified when he wrote them for Sunday performance in the apartments of Louis XIV, the "Sun King." If they didn't exactly stave off poverty in the streets, they festooned royal privilege brilliantly Review: 3 stars (J.S.)

Brahms, Music for Two Pianos, Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman (Sony Classical). Brahms loved collaboration, and his music for two pianos brims with warmth and vitality. The virtuosity here is a delight, and sometimes, say in the robust finale of the Sonata in F Minor, Op. 34b, you just want to bask in the thrill of the technical accomplishment. More important, though, is the soul and beauty that pervades this music. The two masters give a glorious, chorale-like grace to the sonata's slow movement. And the famous Variations on a Theme by Haydn, arranged by Brahms for two pianos, achieves a delicate balance of dignity and lightness. Review: 4 stars (Mary Kunz Goldman)

Dave Brubeck, Songs, John De Haan, tenor, Jane Giering-De Haan, soprano; Dave Brubeck and Cliff Jackson, piano (Naxos). Here is the lesser-seen side of Brubeck. Many of these songs are frankly experimental, opaque and even twelve-tone, like the exercises of an earnest student. (Brubeck studied with Darius Milhaud.) But some are really enjoyable, and they all point to Brubeck's big, sincere spirit. "The Things You Never Remember" features a sweet poem by Brubeck's wife. "There'll Be No Tomorrow," which also shows Iola Brubeck to be a talented lyricist, hints at Chopin. The last two songs, "Day After Day" and "Once When I Was Very Young," have real beauty. I don't get where the liner notes call "Once When I was Very Young" pop. Is there some law that says a song written in the classical tradition can't have melody? Review: 3 stars (M.K.G.)

Friedrich Gulda, Works of Schubert, Debussy, and Ravel (Andante, four discs). Friederich Gulda (1930-2000) is one of my favorite pianists. Little known in this country (except as a friend of jazzman Joe Zawinul and a classical jazz scholar), he is a growing cult figure in Europe. You'll understand why in these recordings for Austrian radio from 1957 and 1967. His technique was both prodigious and precise, and his way with some of the most frequently sentimentalized and even emasculated music in the repertoire was uncommonly strong, lucid, vigorous and profound. As great as the Debussy and Ravel are here (you'll have to play it at some volume to get the full benefit of 1957 sound), it's his Schubert that is revelatory -- the A Minor Sonata D845, the B-Flat Sonata D 960, the Four Impromptus D 899 and Moments Musicaux D 780. In his vehemently idiosyncratic way, (and especially with the first Viennese school), Gulda has a way of committing performances to record you can live with for a lifetime. Review: 4 stars (J.S.)