Booked at Carnegie Hall in June — that's right, the Carnegie Hall — Croatian-born Houstonian Loreta Kovacic moves between the classical and pop milieus as fluidly as her fingers dance around the ivories. Leaving behind the recital-hall atmosphere of her first two CDs, Fugitive Visions and Piano Notturno (which was played on the International Space Station), Kovacic's new disc Cantabile — Italian for "in a singing style" — tweaks the folk-music traditions of her native Balkans with original compositions based on Croatian, Macedonian and Dalmatian melodies. Songs like "It's a Girl," "It's All Good" and "Art Guys" (a tribute to her friends and sometime collaborators in the eponymous local artists' collective) recall the moody shades of Tori Amos, while the playful tint of "Mare," "Amigos" and "Sejla" accent her extensive experience as a children's-music composer — Kovacic, who holds a Ph.D. in Piano Performance from Rice University, has taught kids at her Alchemist Piano Studio for more than a decade. With guest Chenoa Farrell joining Kovacic on violin, Sunday's Mucky Duck concert (and Cantabile CD release) promises to be an elegant exploration of lively Central European textures.
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