Soundtakes

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Brahms-Schoenberg: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sergiu Comissiona, conductor. (Vox Cum Laude MMG D-VCL-9066 [LP]; MCD-10018 [CD]). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, conductor. (Angel digital DS-38187) -- Arnold Schoenberg's orchestration of Brahms's G-minor Piano Quartet, one of his most symphonic chamber works, was an attempt to create, in his own words, ``Brahms's Fifth.'' Schoenberg, a master orchestrator, hoped this reworking would give the quartet a new lease on musi cal life. Those devoted to the piano quartet usually have a hard time with this hybrid. Simon Rattle's performance will offer little solace. The young conductor brings Mahler to a score that Schoenberg strove, in his way, to keep purely Brahmsian. On the other hand, Sergiu Comissiona's performance is superbly gauged from beginning to end, very much a performance based on a deep love and knowledge of not only Brahms the symphonist, but of the original quartet itself. The sound on the LP is brash and striden t. The CD offers an especially impressive listening experience. But CD or LP, the Comissiona performance is a sensitive, satisfying account. Claude Debussy: Suite bergamasque; Pour le piano; Estampes; Images (oubli'ees). Zoltan Koscis, piano. (Philips digital 412 118-1 [LP]; 412 118-2 [CD]) -- Zoltan Kocsis, the young Hungarian pianist, has been represented on records mostly by splashy virtuoso pieces. Here he reveals a new facet to his musical profile -- the subdued virtuosics of Debussy. He conjures bewitching tones from the keyboard and has a very clear, sensitive understanding of the unique idiom of the composer's pianistic muse. It's an immensely enjoya ble program, superbly performed, and deftly captured by the Philips engineers.

Keith Jarrett: ``Standards, Vol. 2.'' (ECM 25023-4E) -- Pianist Keith Jarrett opens this set of standard songs with an original tune entitled ``So Tender.'' It's a lovely thing, and although hardly a standard, it fits well into the collection he has chosen for his second album of songs by America's great songwriters. This time he has picked some of the lesser-known but loveliest works by Alec Wilder (``Moon and Sand''), Jerome Kern (``In Love in Vain''), and Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne (``I Fall in Love Too Easily''). Also in cluded are the equally pretty ``Never Let Me Go'' and ``If I Should Lose You.'' Once again Jarrett and his trio members, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, have put together a sensitive exploration of the innards of the song form. It's an exquisite melding of individual musical insight and a sheer delight to hear.

``Centerfield.'' (Warner Bros. 25203-1) -- Most Creedence Clearwater Revival fans from the ``Proud Mary'' days of 15 years ago are putting in their 9-to-5s, rather than dreaming about rock on the bayou. John Fogerty, the genius behind Creedence, has not had a release in nine years -- until now. It's thrilling to hear his rustic voice and mythmaking music again. Fogerty learned how to play drums, bass, keyboards, and even saxophone for this album. But it's his articulate, powerful guitar that is spotl ighted. Although Fogerty's music has evolved, there is much that hasn't changed. It has the same down-to-earth Americana. The title track, for instance, is a joyful song about the urge to play baseball. ``Big Train (From Memphis)'' recalls young, idealistic days and a legend that has passed, and has a splendid refrain that sounds instantly familiar. Of course, there's the single ``The Old Man Down the Road'' -- an irresistible tune reminiscent of Creedence. Fogerty is already planning to record another albu m. Nothing could be more welcome.

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