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Album Review

To the serious classical purist, interpreting a composer's work is a major no-no. Such purists insist that when a musician embraces the works of a legendary composer like Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, or Bach, he/she must perform the music exactly as it was written, period, end of story. But thankfully, Uri Caine is no purist. The pianist isn't a classical purist any more than he is a jazz purist, and that open-minded outlook makes Love Fugue the intriguing, chance-taking jazz/classical hybrid that it is. Recorded in 1999, this CD finds Caine turning his attention to the music of the 19th Century classical composer Robert Schumann (b. 1810, Zwickau, Germany, d. 1856, Endenich, Germany). Love Fugue, which unites Caine's ensemble with the Italian quartet la Gaia Scienza, is an unorthodox mixture of classical and jazz. Caine takes more than his share of liberties with Schumann's compositions, bringing both jazz and Latin elements to them and allowing for improvisation some of the time. Vocalist Mark Ledford, known for his work with guitarist Pat Metheny, is featured on some of the material, and poet Julie Patton recites English-language poems that fit in perfectly with Caine's interpretation of Schumann's pieces. Obviously, what one hears on Love Fugue isn't how one would have heard Schumann's work performed in 19th century Germany. Schumann's primary language was German, not English, and jazz had yet to be invented. Classical purists are bound to denounce this CD as musical blasphemy, but for those with more eclectic tastes, Love Fugue is a joy to listen to.

Love Fugue: Robert Schumann, Uri Caine Ensemble
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