Radek Baborák, Orquestrina

Radek Baborák, Orquestrina (Animal Music ANI 044-2) 2014. http://www.animalmusic.cz/katalog/radek-baborak-orquestrina

While not the standard fare reviewed here for the HBS, Radek Baborák’s recent CD Orquestrina presents very compelling horn playing together with third-stream twists on some well-known classics. The recordings include Ravel’s Boléro and Fauré’s Pavane, a suite of Hassidic tunes by Lev Kogan, and Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, among other things. Baborák’s title derives from a small Portuguese dance orchestra, a fitting title given the feel of the entire album and the type of ensemble used (three hornists, a handful of strings, and a clarinetist are the heart of the ensemble). It might be easy to dismiss the recording as “yet another third-stream thing,” but in its defense the arrangements are really spot on and the playing equally so, with the result that the entirety is compelling. The rendition of Fauré’s Pavane as a horn solo, beautifully played, will have you convinced that it was the composer’s original intent. While there is not much in the way of variety of style—it is almost non-stop third stream—there are quite a few interesting repertoire decisions that help to vary things more than might be imagined. My only real criticism is that the producer was not quite as careful about his microphone distances as needed on occasion (the bass clarinet’s breathing in the Piazzolla’s quieter moments gets a bit distracting, for instance, and sometimes you can hear more of the keys clicking than is right). This fault aside, the CD is a good listen that presents some great playing. Did I mention some very well-done artwork for the liner notes too?

--Bryan Proksch, Lamar University