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September 30, 2011

CD tour by Christopher O'Riley, Matt Haimovitz to include Baltimore's An die Musik

One of the coolest recordings I've come across lately is "Shuffle.Play.Listen," featuring Christopher O'Riley, the remarkably creative and engaging pianist and host of the popular NPR show “From the Top,” and the equally adventurous cellist Matt Haimovitz.

Ready-made for iPodders, this release from Oxingale Records offers one disc of mostly classical selections and another of pop/rock songs arranged by O'Riley. You can load the discs onto a music device, hit "shuffle," then sit back and enjoy crossing from one musical border to another and back again. You don't have to be that literal, though. I enjoyed hearing each disc straight through.

The whole set would be worth having if only for ...

O'Riley's brilliant arrangements on Disc 1 of Bernard Herrmann's music from the Hitchcock classic “Vertigo.” O'Riley effectively captures the essence of Hermann's indelible soundtrack, and the pianist's richly expressive playing is matched by Haimovitz in atmospheric performances that may have you feeling a little dizzy. Selections from O'Riley's "Vertigo" Suite are interspersed with colorful music by Janacek, Martinu and Stravinsky (the ordering provides built-in shuffling on this disc); the artists deliver that repertoire impressively, too.

O'Riley, long admired for his piano arrangements of songs by Radiohead, fills Disc 2 with keyboard/cello versions of pieces by that group, as well as Arcade Fire, Cocteau Twins and more.

I confess I don't know all of the source material (whatever gaps remain in my rock awareness, I still listen to more non-classical stuff than the typical rock fan ever embraces Bruckner, I'd bet). But O'Riley's arrangements sound awfully persuasive to me, filled with vivid writing for both instruments, and the two musicians sound deeply connected to the material.

As part of a CD-promoting tour, O'Riley and Haimovitz are coming to town. They will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at An die Musik.

Meanwhile, here's a taste of the artists in action during the recording of "Shuffle.Play.Listen," performing their version of "Empty Room" by Arcade Fire:


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:22 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes


Amazing performance- I can't wait to hear them live tonight in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame!

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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