Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum 2009 = Works of KORNAUTH, FEINBERG, LESCHETIZKY, PIERNE, BAX, POULENC, RODRIGUES, SCHULHOF – Var. pianists – Danacord

by | Mar 13, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum = KORNAUTH: Fantasie in E-flat Minor, Op. 10; FEINBERG: Sonata No. 2, Op. 2; LESCHETIZKY: Meditation, Op. 19, No. 1; Toccata “Homage a Czerny,” Op. 46, No. 5; PIERNE: Nocturne en forme de valse, Op. 40, No. 2; BAX: What the minstrel told us; POULENC: Aubade; RODRIGUES: Momentos musicais; SCHULHOF: Sonata No. 1 – Jonathan Powell, piano/Nina Tichman, piano/Hubert Rutkowski, piano/ Artur Pizarro, piano/Denis Pascal, piano/Jonathan Plowright, piano/ Eliane Rodrigues, piano/Janice Weber, piano – Danacord DACOCD 699, 79:45 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Recorded 15-22 August at the 2009 Festival at Schloss von Husum, an event that likes to claim “bold programs and outstanding performances.” The Fantasy in E-flat Minor by Viennese composer, and pupil of Franz Schreker, Egon Kornauth (1891-1959)–played by Jonathan Powell–makes a good introduction, rather fluid and declamatory, with large chords at the opening that alternate with lyrical riffs in G-flat Major and G Major.  A brief waltz breaks out late in the piece, then the thick explosively “symphonic” tissue returns in order to close out–employing some Scriabinesque musings–in bright, tranquil E-flat Major.

Samuil Feinberg (1890-1962) is recalled as an excellent pianist from the Alexander Goldenweiser school. Nina Tichman plays his Sonata No. 2, Op. 2 (1916), an A Minor one-movement work clearly in the Scriabin mold.  The four-note cell motif serves to metamorphose into angular and turbid waters, even more dramatic in E Minor. Five-note patterns in three beats mark the progression until a “Drammatico” section reveals the knottier metrics of Scriabin, and we proceed to A Major and then to a quiet resolution in the home key.  Theodor Leschetitzky (1830-1915), teacher of many fine pianists, has Hubert Rutkowski’s performance of the “La Melusine” Meditation from Op. 19, a brief invocation of a water-spirit in Mendelssohn style. From a set called Contes de Jeunesse we hear a brilliantly flashy etude that exploits wrist action and flowing notes in perpetuo style.

Artur Pizarro plays Gabriel Pierne’s Nocturne en forme de valse, which opens in a fluid C-sharp Minor–then D-flat Major–with modal elements close to Faure. The meter has shifted to 5/8 before it becomes conventionally 3/4 in E Major. The two meters compete gently, a tender summer shower of notes in Springtime Paris. Arnold Bax (1883-1953)  wrote his What the minstrel told us (1919) for his inamorata Harriet Cohen, who premiered it in 1920. A potent Ballad, the piece takes its affect from Irish politics of the period, so its rhapsodic, stormy nature reflects passions public and private. Pianist Denis Pascal captures its mercurial, dark song with particular poignancy. Jonathan Plowright performs composer Francis Poulenc’s own arrangement of his 1929 Aubade suite, a balletic homage to Diana, chaste goddess of the hunt. A big Fanfare leads to Toccata and Recitative. A charmingly demure Rondeau gains energy and frenetic speed as it proceeds. The Presto section makes quite a fluttering etude. Diana dances a Variation (on a Mozart tune) after a kind of French overture for the keyboard, reminiscent of Rameau, bass-heavy near its conclusion. A fiery section, Allegro feroce, dissipates quickly, only to yield to stately chords, a kind of chorale that recalls Stravinsky’s Apollo. Perhaps deliberately. Diana’s stately farewell invokes lulling arpeggios in Poulenc’s most wistful glittery style.

Composer Eliane Rodriguez (b. 1959) performs two of her own Momentos musicais of 1995: No. 11 Carrosel, a languid waltz from a country fairground; then, No. 12 Miudinho, a north-east Brazilian, limping dance of African influence whose left hand 3+2+2 meter provides a bravura effect, much as Chopin might have incorporated folk elements into a toccata. The excellent music of the World War II victim Erwin Schulhof (1894-1942) has received increasing note by contemporary instrumentalists: his Sonata No. 1 by Janice Weber opens Allegro molto, with pentatonic tone clusters on the black keys with a fierce ostinato and major seconds in the left hand. The slow movement is marked Molto tranquillo and moves contrapuntally, much like a passacaglia. The highly chromatic theme exploits all twelve notes plus six intervals of a perfect fourth. It crescendos then dies away to prepare for the jazzy Allegro moderato grotesco, suggestive of wayward ragtime. The finale propels us through toccata riffs in pentatonic scales and hammered fifths, the material somewhat cyclical of the first movement motifs. A Bartokian sense of pedal emerges that leads to a whirlwind coda.

–Gary Lemco

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