Few musical unions are as compelling as this one, and Varuna, which is far from your run-of-the-mill singer-and-pianist date, is pure magic.

This absorbing release—an album that’s something of a sequel to The Duo Sessions (Nabel Records, 2005)—finds vocalist Laurie Antonioli and pianist Richie Beirach painting one divine musical tableau after another. There are vivid numbers that place Antonioli’s seraphic vocals atop Beirach’s dense and full-flavored chords, spare readings that allow fragility and the human condition to come to the surface, and …

The album concludes with a unique version of “Over the Rainbow” which re-defines the nature of both the music and the lyric. It is a total reconstruction of the song, similar to the classic 1961 version of “Laura” created by Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake, where all previous renditions seem trivial and out-dated.

Varuna is a dwarf planet located near Pluto, and although it was only discovered about fifteen years ago, it has already become the subject of an original song by vocalist Laurie Antonioli and pianist Richie Beirach. The lyrics touch upon the mythological and astronomical meanings of both the planet and its namesake, and the song’s mystical, out-of-time setting is a …

Antonioli uses an inspired collection of standards that perfectly meld with the originals.

The two artists allow Alexander Scriabin’s “Prelude in E-flat Minor” to carefully dissolve into “My Funny Valentine.” Long relegated to the stack of standards that should no longer be covered, “Valentine” is daunting. Only the most original and creative interpretations need be tried with this piece of music. Gladly, the two transmogrify the piece into something delicate and special. They …