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Shining Night (Anne Akiko Meyers)

Anne Akiko Meyers (violin), Jason Vieaux (guitar), Fabio Biondi (piano) (Avie)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Shining Night
Works by JS Bach, Ellington, Lauridsen, Piazzolla et al
Anne Akiko Meyers (violin), Jason Vieaux (guitar), Fabio Biondi (piano)
Avie AV2455   64:32 mins

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Armed with the wide colour palette of her 1741 ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin, Anne Akiko Meyers and her recording engineers go all out for bold projection on this glossy and maddening album. The violin’s tones come further decorated with ample use of vibrato and enough portamento-slithering to suggest this distinguished instrument is not only polished but greased. Guitarist Jason Vieaux – her principal accompanist – must have been given acoustical help to avoid being swamped in the sound balance. The trick worked, anyway; a quiet mouse has become Meyers’s equal partner.

Pandemic-slanted, the album hops across centuries, seeking balm and the value of cherishing nature, love and poetry, even in wild flings like Andy Poxon’s mischievous arrangement of Corelli’s La Folia, certainly one of the more enjoyable tracks. Piazzolla’s L’Histoire du tango, another piece needing sprightly fingering, also gets an exhilarating workout. Once Meyers reduces the decibels, soulful beauties can sing and soar, as in the aria from Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. Leo Brouwer’s newly commissioned Lauda al Arbol Gigante, in homage to the Giant Sequoia tree, is also good value.

Meyers’s artistry, however, has its glutinous side. Calorie-conscious listeners should especially watch out for Morten Lauridsen’s violin and piano distillations of his already emollient choral pieces. In an unappealingly slow rendition, Meyers and Vieaux also sorely test the spell of Duke Ellington’s moody In My Solitude. Throughout there are fireworks and much technical skill; but subtlety lovers all in all should probably consider getting their balm elsewhere.

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Geoff Brown