Nurturing young musicians is important. However, when we think of budding young musicians we imagine a screeching violin never quite in tune or a halting performance of “Heart and Soul.” From the Top at the Pops with Erich Junzel and the Cinicinnati Pops Orchestra is a soon to be released CD by Telarc where the star performers are young, budding musicians, but a far cry from out of tune – quite the opposite, this recording is a stunning example of what the horizon holds for classical music. There are shafts of brilliant gold screaming through a heavily laden sky of great classical music.
The pieces range from the powerful Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Greig (with Ji-Yong on piano, age 17) to the very modern jazz The Upward Stream by Russell Peck (with Corey Dundee on Tenor Saxophone, age 17). For the past ten years From the Top has been showcasing young performers. Caroline Goulding, who's debut CD I recently reviewed, is one of these stunning performers and well on her way to a spectacular professional career. The other young artists who were also featured on this year’s album show they too are well on their way.
Some of the highlights start right at the beginning. Ji-Yong does an amazing performance of Greig’s Piano Concerto in A. He only performs the opening movement, Allegra molto moderato, but he does so with command of the piano, never once giving the impression he is not intimately familiar with the music, the instrument or his ability. Chad Hoopes, only age 14, performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with a delightful clarity. He played even the most demanding passages with precision. Finally, Corey Dundee gave a phenomenal performance with Pecks’ The Upward Stream.
Even though I only highlighted only a few of these young artists, the entire album was delightful and worthy of praise. Hilda Huang on the piano is only 12. Matthew Allen, on cello, and Caroline Goulding, on violin, are only 16. Stephen Feigenbaum, the composer of a delightful Serenade for Strings is the oldest at 19. Each and every one is laudable as a solo performer.
From The Top at the Pops Erich Kunzel & Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Available August 25th, 2009