The Jukebox Album / Poster, Urioste

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When the pandemic struck early in 2020, violinist Elena Urioste and pianist-composer Tom Poster responded by channeling their creative energies into #UriPosteJukeBox, a portmanteau of their surnames and a nod to the retro feel of the jukebox with its eclectic selection of songs to be chosen by the listener. The original intention was to produce one video of the duo performing together for every day of the lockdown (which at the time was anticipated to be relatively brief). What followed was a project that took off in ways the pair had never dreamed of, capturing the imaginations and hearts of listeners across the globe, embracing requests that traversed many musical genres, featuring commissions by contemporary composers, and entertaining followers with increasingly elaborate costumes, props, additional instruments, and multi-tracking. In all, they made 88 videos – one for each key on a piano. The impact of the endeavor and the joy it brought in an extraordinarily challenging time were more formally recognized when the Jukebox won a Royal Philharmonic Society Inspiration Award. This album captures the spontaneous and varied feel of the original videos, drawing together some of the duo’s favorite pieces in a way that celebrates this joyous project and all those who contributed to it.

REVIEW

Classical violinst Elena Urioste and her partner Tom Poster have recorded a new album titled The Jukebox Album for the Orchid Classics label. Elena Urioste has performed with major orchestras around the world and is active with several chamber ensembles. Tom is a versatile pianist with a creative musical streak and an eye for new projects. They have combined their musical talents to create this colorful array of duets, arranged for piano and violin. Tom and Elena began this project during the pandemic lockdown with a series of short musical videos. Their efforts evolved into this album, featuring a choice set of tunes from yesteryear with the added bonus of several new works from a group of outstanding contemporary composers.

One of the earliest numbers is Serenade Espagnole, a charming salon piece written by French pianist and composer Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944) and first published in 1895. Arranged for piano and violin by Fritz Kreisler, this tune opens with Elena performing a soft Spanish melody on violin backed by Tom providing rhythm with rolling piano chords, before breaking tempo with a short, lively quickstep. Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) was an enormously talented French composer and musician who wrote Cortege in 1914. The Introduction appeared later on a 1930 recording, and was rearranged by Tom for this album as a serene adagio piano and violin duet. The lively, galloping Cortege features Elena’s exquisite phrasing and sweet tone, well-matched with Tom’s dancing piano arpeggios. In 1935 the legendary tango king Carlos Gardel wrote and recorded El dia que me quieras, with lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera, which appeared in the film of the same name. This fabulous love song is arranged and performed with a stately andante tango walking rhythm, as Tom plays a soft, measured accompaniment while Elena performs a wafting, layered Spanish serenade recorded on multiple tracks.

Clarice Assad is a Brazilian-American composer and musician and wrote the beautiful Emotiva in 2020 for this album, capturing the mixed feelings of isolation, sadness and hope from the effects of the pandemic lockdown. Elena performs the slow, searching melody in long, contemplative passages over Tom’s sensitive broken chord accompaniment. Cheryl Frances-Hoad composed Bloom during the same lockdown, inspired by the developing blossoms on the fruit trees near her home. It is a dreamy piece of work, imaginative and hypnotic, with long, meditative violin passages, moving over slow waves of piano arpeggios. One of my favorites on this disc is Cole Porter’s masterpiece Begin the Beguine, which first appeared in the 1935 Broadway musical “Jubilee”. Tom’s interesting piano accompaniment steadily rocks inside the beguine rhythm, as Elena plays her gorgeous, soaring violin duet.

This music was recorded on February 15-17, 2021 at Menuhin Hall, Stoke D’Abernon. Patrick Allen was the engineer and producer. A detailed 16-page booklet with photographs is included. The sound quality is excellent.

--MusicWeb International (Bruce McCollum)



Product Description:


  • Release Date: September 24, 2021


  • Catalog Number: ORC100173


  • UPC: 5060189561735


  • Label: Orchid Classics


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Composer: Carlos Gardel, Cécile Chaminade, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Clarice Assad, Cole Porter, Donald Grant, Gabriel Fauré, Huw Watkins, Jerome Kern, Jessie Montgomery, Lili Boulanger, Louiguy, Manning Sherwin, Mark Simpson, Pteromost, Stephen Sondheim, Traditional


  • Performer: Elena Urioste, Tom Poster