Despite sentiments expressed a few lines above, I am not entirely unreachable by the "purer" kind of piano virtuosity, and Sony's forthcoming release of Russia's 26-year-old whiz-bang Arcadi Volodos' 1998 Carnegie Hall recital would knock the socks off a marble statue. The music itself -- showoff pieces by Liszt and Rachmaninoff, Scriabin's 10th Sonata and assorted tidbits, a set of Schumann miniatures -- won't do much to raise your IQ, but it'll definitely drop your jaw. There is an exhilaration here, a torrent of virtuosity of the kind that you associate with certain no-brain Russians of bygone times. Nothing here, or on other Volodos recordings I've heard, tells me anything about his ability to assume the burden of thought; he comes to the Philharmonic next February with the Tchaikovsky, which won't tell us much more. But I wouldn't miss it for worlds.
LAST SATURDAY'S PAPERS -- THENew York and Los Angeles Times, respectively -- ran statements from heads of classical-music radio stations worth considering as the millennium hurtles toward us. Says Bill Campbell of Boston's WCRB, which has discontinued the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts: "The popular operas are fine, like La Traviata and La Bohème. People recognize them and are happy to hear them every year. Then comes along a five-hour Wagner feature, and I've got to tell you, that is an acquired taste." Says KKGO's Saul Levine, answering Mark Swed's call for livelier, up-to-date programming: "We present a balanced selection . . . that fits our mainstream approach. We do not air the works of John Cage or similar-sounding [sic] composers."