ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
(Soundbite of music, "Organ Concerto in B-Flat Major, Op. 4, No. 6: Andante allegro")
TOM MANOFF: (Soundbite of music, "Organ Concerto in B-Flat Major, Op. 4, No. 6: Andante allegro")
MANOFF: Here, Richard Egarr is conducting the Academy of Ancient Music while playing the organ. He's also a versatile artist on other keyboards, including harpsichord and piano. He also plays music from many different eras, and has a remarkable gift for combining subtle musical gestures with forward-moving and irrepressible rhythms.
F M: Presto")
MANOFF: While I admire Egarr's recordings, I think he's even better in person. His recent performance with the Portland Baroque Orchestra was one of the most exciting musical evenings I've had in years. The way he communicates with audiences reminds me of Leonard Bernstein's ability to engage listeners without talking down to them. He also matches Bernstein's onstage charisma, so it wouldn't be a stretch to call Egarr, the Bernstein of Early Music.
MANOFF: I've been waiting for a conductor like Richard Egarr to come along for some time - a conductor who pursues historical authenticity, but allows himself an emotional involvement often avoided by many other early-music specialists. While he has a wonderful technique, he's much more than a master of finger work; Richard Egarr is a master of nuance, of dancing rhythms and sparkling melodies. He's one of the most exciting and delightful musicians of our time.
SIEGEL: Our critic is Tom Manoff. He reviewed the Academy of Ancient Music CD of "Handel: Organ Concertos." You can hear selections from the CD and discover more classical music at our site, npr.org/music.
SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.