The March/April 2023 issue of Fanfare Magazine features a wonderful recommendation for Dominic Cheli, James Conlon, and the Colburn School’s Shapeshifter recording of the Music of Erwin Schulhoff:
Shapeshifter: Music of Erwin Schulhoff$9.98 – $16.98
“This recording, carrying the title Shapeshifter, was made in conjunction with the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Conductor James Conlon has devoted considerable efforts over many years on behalf of composers suppressed by the Nazi authorities during the Third Reich, and Erwin Schulhoff (1894–1942) is among those who have benefitted from Conlon’s advocacy. Shapeshifter refers to the ease with which Schulhoff blended Modernism, jazz, dance, folk elements, and art music.… In addition to fine solo playing by Dominic Cheli, Conlon’s conducting is a major asset.
The Five Pieces for String Quartet, also from 1923, is lighter than the concerto, filled with wit and irony.… At just over 15 minutes, these five miniatures would be welcome as chamber music novelties, especially if performed as passionately and accurately as here. After the high energy level of the first two works, the Suite for Piano, Left Hand (1926), generally listed as Suite No. 3, offers quite a contrast in the quiet, lyrical mood of the first two movements. … Cheli plays with extraordinary energy and encompasses the full range of the wild contrasts the score presents. … Violin Sonata No. 2 (1927) features the most acerbic music on the program.… Violinist Adam Millstein and pianist Cheli inhabit the music fully.
The disc ends with a surprise, Susi, a five-minute fillip in cabaret style that dates from Schulhoff’s time as half of a jazz piano duo that performed on Ostrava radio in the 1930s. This simple, bittersweet tune offers a contrast to the complex music that precedes it on the program. Cheli plays it with fluidity and charm.
Rebecca Stewart’s program notes are superb—well written and very informative. The recorded sound from spaces at the Colburn School is excellent throughout.—Henry Fogel, Fanfare