Diane Walsh, piano = BARBER: Sonata, Op. 26; MARTIN: 8 Preludes; PROKOFIEV: Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 14; BARTOK: Sonata – Bridge

by | May 20, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Diane Walsh, piano = BARBER: Sonata, Op. 26; MARTIN: 8 Preludes;
PROKOFIEV: Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 14; BARTOK: Sonata – Bridge
9151 73:21 (Distrib. Albany)****:

at SUNY Purchase, 1990, this recital of relatively contemporary piano
works–at least they all date from the first half of the 20th
century–has a kind of Janus-face, since each of the pieces tends to
look back as much as its individual voice carries forward into
modernism. Diane Walsh plays each of the selections with obvious
sympathy as well as pristine technical skills. Her Barber Sonata (1949)
balances the percussive with the lyric, the avant-garde and the modal,
with refinement and taste. The second movement Allegro vivo e leggiero
is exactly that, quicksilver in touch and meter, and light of hand. The
passacaglia third movement comes off as an uneasy, intricate journey
into dark regions, with incursions in to Schoenberg&Mac226;s
domains. The last movement staccato-motion fugue, with its alternately
smooth and jazzy episodes, displays Walsh’s bravura style, an
effortless, impulsive dash for the bleachers.

The Prokofiev D Minor (1912) is the earliest of the four works,
chronologically; my old teacher Jean Casadesus was quite partial to it,
especially its deft Scherzo, composed 1904 as a composition piece for a
master class. The lively tarantella last movement moves briskly, even
suavely, rife with bluster and virile confidence. Bartok’s Sonata
(1926) gravitates around a tonal center of E, percussive and playful at
once, with filigree reminiscent of the First Piano Concerto. Both the
first movement and third engage in Magyar-style riffs and sudden
dissonances that have peasant songs or even Messaien’s bird calls as
their source. The ungainly second movement has Walsh lavishing tender
care on its plodding, bizarre melancholy. Finally, a cult favorite, the
1948 set of Preludes Frank Martin composed in honor of Roumanian
pianist Dinu Lipatti. Veronica Jochum captured their weird combination
of 12-tone and modal techniques in her recording about ten years ago.
Some askew allusions to Chopin and Bach, an ametrical march, a grueling
tarantella, a canon, an etude for the left hand, each attests to
Martin’s mix of tradition and innovation, with his own idiosyncratic
part-writing. A kind of virtuoso’s tagbuch in modern syntax, this album
makes a powerful demonstration for piano virtuoso Diane Walsh. An
excellent reissue, taken from Music&Arts CD-4669.

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