Variations: Uri Caine and Concerto Koln
by Scott DeVeaux
Uri Caine and Concerto Köln. "Diabelli" Variations. Munich:
Winter & Winter, 2002. 910 086–2.
Uri Caine is probably someone whose name has yet to cross the threshold
of Beethoven Forum. A pianist with an arch wit and an education that
places him somewhere between classical music and jazz, Caine has situated
his work at the boundary between art music and its clever deconstruction.
His previous recordings have matched Mahler and Wagner with klezmer, and
Dichterlieder with weeping country guitars, Japanese poetry, and Latin
grooves. Most impressively, his seventy-two-variation remaking of the
Variations crashed Bach's contrapuntal masterpiece against the staggering
of styles and instrumentations available in the late twentieth century—not
Baroque, Classical, and Romantic, but also jazz, salsa, experimental music,
Now he's moved to Beethoven, with an orchestrated version of the
Variations that is as deeply stimulating as it is unsettling.