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Monday, May 20, 2019

Ramon Lazkano, Piano Works, Alfonso Gomez, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, Marta Zabaleta

Based on the CD at hand today Ramon Lazkano writes High-Modernist Piano Works (Kairos 0015041KAI) of an aborbing depth and dimension. Six works grace the program. Alfonso Gomez is the principal pianist throughout and shows a concentrated focus and sure-handedness that is essential to this music. The composer and Marta Zabaleta join in on the piano works that require additional hands. The Bilbao Symphony under Ernest Martinez Izquierdo effectively and dynamically expand the sonic scope of Lazkano for the piano & orchestra work "Hitzaurre Bi" while laying down a convincing impression in their own right.

There is a quasi-Messiaen feeling of mystery in this sixteen-minute opening "Hitzaurre Bi." The density, the intensity is poetic and rewarding to hear. The second movement assumes an insistent pulsation that lucidly sets up open unfoldings in piano and orchestra. It is exciting music, exciting to hear.

What follows in the rest of the program is equally captivating at the same time as it stakes out a poetic atonality that at times follows the rhythmic drip-drop clustering of Modern Seriality,  at other times assumes a more post-Minimalist sense of repetition and at still other times a slightly folksy yet abstracted rhythmic unfolding or a heightened sense of additive density that Messiaen made use of in his middle period and Lazkano breathes new life into today. Two brief pieces for four and six hands spell an otherwise solo piano universe in the second half of the program. He explores with musical brilliance what more can be done with the performative solo presence today. Each work is a world in its own terms. Each adds something to how Lazkano views the piano and its possibilities for us.

I come away from this music with a very refreshed sense of where we are going now. Lazkano is a voice to hear, a new contemporary vision of pianism and meaningful musical utterance. You should spend some time with this music if you can. It rewards patient listening with enlightened tone-spinning. Very recommended.

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