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Two Young Pianists Take Manhattan

Benjamin Hochman is a prime example of another New York type, the up-and-coming soloist. What makes him unusual, however, is the unabashed emphasis he has given to modern repertory, which he balances effortlessly with the classics in his recitals and recordings. His new album, “Variations” (Avie), is another testament to his talent. Works by Knussen, Berio, George Benjamin (the lovingly gentle “Meditation on Haydn’s Name”), Peter Lieberson (surprisingly, the world-première recording of the richly entertaining Piano Variations, from 1996), and Brahms (the monumental Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel) are linked not only by a common aspect of compositional technique but by the air of quiet mystery—backed by rock-solid musicianship—that Hochman brings to all of them. Among his attributes are an extraordinary sensitivity to harmonic pacing and a sly mastery of the pedals, which allows him to open up volumes of space within the general sound—the low, middle, and high registers held in exquisite equilibrium. (The album should properly be listened to at home, through good speakers.) There is something feline and elusive about this artist, as if he were providing us with but a portion of his capacious musical imagination. I look forward to sampling more of it.

Russell Platt, The New Yorker
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