Young Talents With Some Lively Ideas

There is no end of fretting in the classical music world.

Just look at the record business. The major labels have nearly ceased recording new cycles of Schubert symphonies and Wagner operas, perhaps finally realizing that the multitude of performances already available may be just about enough. Lowest-common-denominator crossover albums crowd the catalog. Clueless record executives seem able to discern the fact that there's an audience but can't quite figure out how to tap it.

These are appropriate concerns. But there are also signs of new life in classical music, which are apparent to anyone who looks for them.

No longer do emerging pianists automatically feel compelled to compete with Rubinstein by doing yet another Chopin program. Emerging conductors now realize they can follow in the footsteps of Frtwangler without mimicking him in Beethoven. In other words, there are plenty of new musicians with new musical ideas.

Moreover, it is relatively cheap and easy to make a CD these days, and small, independent labels are often eager to take chances with new artists and new repertory. The Times' music critics take a look a few of these emerging artists and their CDs:

* * * * "VENEZIA" Florian Uhlig Black Box

A poetic sensibility, musical astuteness and an embracing technical arsenal mark the exceptional playing of Uhlig, born in Dsseldorf, Germany in 1974, in this thrilling collection of miniatures. Brain power and a wide palette of colors characterize his compelling performances of well-known and virtually forgotten pieces: the Barcarolle of Chopin, Liszt's "La Lugubre Gondola," Alkan's Barcarolle, an irresistible A-minor Sonata by Galuppi, and others by Faure, Malipiero and Mendelssohn. The pianist's charms are many, his mechanical resources stunning.

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