“Martin Perry plays Carter, Bartók, Rozsa” = BARTOK: Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs; ROZSA: Piano Sonata; CARTER: Piano Sonata 1945-46 – Martin Perry, p. – Bridge Records

by | May 20, 2013 | Classical CD Reviews

“Martin Perry plays Carter, Bartók, Rozsa” = BARTOK: Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20; ROZSA: Piano Sonata Op. 20; CARTER: Piano Sonata 1945-46 (Revised 1982) – Martin Perry, p. – Bridge Records, 53:50 (3/1/13) [Distr. by Albany] ****:

The first is the Bartók Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20. These were composed in the 1920s and were first performed by Bartók himself. Bartók starts with the basic folk themes, then turns them inside-out in interesting variations.

The Rozsa Piano Sonata is my favorite piece in the collection. I’ve always been partial to Rozsa, who lived in the world of film music as well as more serious compositions. Rozsa could be considered the next generation of composers from Bartók, and like Bartók, Rozsa draws from Hungarian folk melodies for the heart of his composition. Rozsa is less frequently atonal, and his melodies soar.

The last work on the disk is Elliot Carter’s Piano Sonata. Carter was a contemporary of Rozsa, but their output is very different. Carter is more experimental and atonal, beyond most of Stravinsky or Charles Ives. The Sonata heard here was written in 1945-46 and is for the first movement a fairly sedate work, that turns active and furious in tempo and mood.

The recorded sound has the solo piano up front and center. The recording venue is a bit dry for my taste, even when opening up the sound a bit with multi-channel speakers. Still, the recording is clean and captures the dynamics of the music on offer.

This disk is an interesting and worthwhile collection of works from some of the great contemporary composers. Rozsa and Bartók are often paired, and I think adding the Carter is an interesting way to cap off the collection. While not a sonic spectacular, Martin Perry feels right at home with these challenging pieces, and the performance is flawless.

—Mel Martin

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