Christina Naughton / Michelle Naughton VISIONS Adams - Bach - Messiaen

The twin-sister duo of Christina and Michelle Naughton have made a deep splash since graduating from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and coming on the scene in 2008. They've recorded conventional duo-piano repertory and succeeded through sheer charisma, but they break through to a new level with this innovatively programmed album that takes its title from its opening work, Messiaen's ecstatic Visions de l'amen (Visions of Amen), composed in 1943. This is one of Messiaen's epic works of the World War II years, perhaps less often heard than the likes of Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus due to its unusual genre, and the Naughton sisters absolutely blow it away with a rare combination of technical brilliance and deep musical communion. Sample the finale, "Amen de la Consommation" (track 7), for an amazing bit of spiritual intensity from artists so young. The entr'acte, an arrangement of "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeir" from Bach's Cantata No. 106, is a lovely, static nod to the sisters' traditional training, and then it's on to John Adams' rollicking and thoroughly enjoyable Hallelujah Junction, which somehow fits perfectly with the sisters' pop-star images. Beautifully recorded at a studio at Boston's WGBH radio, this is one of the most satisfying duo piano recordings in recent memory. (James Manheim)

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