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Lark's "Fantasy" album showcases a cultured violinist, fiddler, and Bluegrass-inspired composer

The word “fantasy” to describe music has been in use since the 16th century and continues to the present day. There are reasons for this: the word used in a title sounds good; it suggests a certain kind of emotion that may or may not be present in the music; and the fact that the definition of the word has been changing according to who used it and when. Tovey stated that fantasy could be applied to any concerto written since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s free to use, imparts a bit of mystery, and no one will ask the composer to define it. A look at the composers represented on this CD will tell you that none of them would agree on a definition that would cover all of them. The words “free form” usually appear in attempts to define it, but it tells us nothing. Luckily, no one cares much; if a perspective buyer enjoys the composers presented, he will probably buy it, definition or not.

This album was put together by Tessa Lark, an outstanding violinist. She was born in Kentucky, and the first music she experienced was Bluegrass. You won’t find it in her Telemann performances, but in the piece she composed, Appalachian Fantasy, the cultured, stylish classical violinist is revealed as—a fiddler. Everything on the disc is well played, but this quasi-folk music, which yields everything it’s got at the first hearing, will make your heart sing with joy.

The only thing the music on this disc has in common is the title word, so if you didn’t read the notes, you would hear a random selection of this and that. Aside from the Appalachian piece noted above, the other outstanding moment is the Schubert C-Major Fantasy. This performance is owned by Lark’s piano accompanist, Amy Yang. Lark’s playing here is exemplary, like all the other selections; but I quickly found myself concentrating on the piano part. Accompanists are seldom given their due, but Ms. Yang is an artist who will most likely excel as a soloist, if she pursues it. So, for the Schubert and the Appalachian pieces alone, I give this disc a high recommendation.

--David Reznik © 2020 Fanfare

David Reznik, Fanfare
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