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Album Review

Lara St. John: Shiksa

Read "Shiksa" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

..."all this music from different countries and cultures pulled together and recorded by a random Canadian chick." And that is the charm of Lara St. John. One-time enfant terrible violinist Lara St. John has morphed into a beautifully iconoclastic and enigmatic cultural presence in the staid world of classical music. Things started off innocently enough with Bach. St. John made her way through three Bach-oriented recordings (Bach Works for Violin Solo (Well- Tempered, 1996), ...


Album Review

Marie-Pierre Langlamet: Schubert

Read "Schubert" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Marie-Pierre Langlamet is the principal harpist for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. She recently joined forces with Canadian violinist Lara St. John for a novel take on Bach on Bach Sonatas (Ancalagon, 2012). On Schubert Langlamet takes the helm of a project, released on Lara St. John's label Ancalagon Records, focusing on the music of Franz Schubert where, in place of the composer's piano, she uses her harp as the harmony instrument, not unlike the vibraphone replacing the piano in jazz ...


Extended Analysis

Polkastra: “I Do” The Wedding Album

Read "Polkastra: “I Do” The Wedding Album" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

The international group Polkastra is the brainchild of one Lara St. John. Yes, that Lara St. John--the Bach enfant terrible of the mid-1990s who evolved to record a definitive set of The Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin inagurating her own Ancalagon label in 2007 , followed by notable recordings of Hindson, Vivaldi, Mozart and Bach Chamber Music. In 2009, St. John's side project, Polkastra, released its debut recording, Apolkalypse Now on the violinist's label. That recording revealed a ...


Album Review

Lara St. John and Marie-Pierre Langlamet: Bach Sonatas

Read "Bach Sonatas" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Can classical music performance be controversial? Most often, this is true only when a performance departs from contemporary (or not-so-contemporary) conventional wisdom, which often relies on both a uniform and blinding reverence to how “things ought to be." Every composer who ever put pen to parchment may have designated a specific instrument in a given piece, but that does not preclude the possibility of a different instrument playing that same piece. In fact, this is exactly how the composers of ...


Album Review

Scott and Lara St. John / The Knights / Eric Jacobsen: Mozart

Read "Mozart" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Ever since the consumptive and mysterious Nicolo Paganini took the stage, breaking three of his four famous fiddle strings, playing on the remaining G, and declaring “the Artist as Hero," the cult of personality of the artist has become as important and, Indeed, compelling, as that of the composer and the music composed. Today we would call this personality. Canadian violinist Lara St. John is not wanting of personality; her Bach, as evidenced by her earliest releases up to her ...


Album Review

Polkastra: Apolkalypse Now

Read "Apolkalypse Now" reviewed by Elliott Simon

The 2010 Grammy ceremonies will have one less award to give out with the decision to drop the Polka category from the official Best Album listing, the stated reason being that the awards need to remain “pertinent within the current musical landscape." No matter that the musical landscapes in places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo are still filled with the happy sound of Polka music or that bands like Brave Combo and Headless Household have been creatively redefining and ...


Album Review

Lara St. John, The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Eduardo Marturet: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Read "Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Canadian cum American violinist Lara St. John is a classical maverick without peer. The scintillating Bach of her youth, Bach: Works for Solo Violin (Well Tempered Productions, 1996), gave way a decade later to her fully mature Bach of The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo (Ancalagon, 2007), and then to diamond-splendid Hindson, Corigliano, and Liszt (Hindson: Violin Concerto; Corigliano: Suite from the Red Violin, Ancalagon, 2008). A creatively restless spirit, St. John returns to the fold with a ...


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