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Monday, May 29, 2023

Sarah Cahill, The Future is Female, Vol. 3, At Play, Woman Composers for Piano, 1700s to Today


Multi-stylistic piano poet Sarah Cahill  chimes in with her Third Volume of The Future is Female, At Play (FHR 133) which provides us with some nine female composers and their compositions in a creative vein, with a wealth of inventions ranging from the period around 1700 through to today. What is rather exhilarating about it is the significant form of it all and its diversity of stylistic means according to the varying historical-stylistic musicways at hand.

Beginning with the elegant Classicism of  Helene de Montegeroult (1764-1836) and her three-part Piano Sonata No, 9, to the meditative Eastern Modernism prepared piano of  Franghiz Ali-Zadeh  (b. 1947) and  her :Music for Piano," we experience myriad possibilities of an expressive but also exploratory set of works that leaves you satisfied yet wanting still more. And of course that can be had in the earlier volumes of this project. I will be posting presently on Volume Two as well. Stay tuned.

In the course of the current program we are exposed readily and superlatively to some six additional gems by woman composers now known and some still relatively unknown. So we get pieces by Cecile Charminade (1967-1944),  Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), Chen Yi (b. 1953), Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016), Hannah Kendall (b 1984), Aida Shirazi (b. 1987), and Regina Harris Baiocchi (b. 1956). It is all substantial fare, worthwhile and as you experience it a treasure trove of woman composers worthy of our attention. Ms, Cahill triumphs as she does throughout the series as a whole, Highly recommended. 

To  choose repertoire is to be a kind of music curator. Ms. Cahill is a wonderful curator in addition to being an outstanding pianist Bravo.

Listen to samples of it here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Mozart, Complete Piano Sonatas, Yeol Eum Son


To me the Mozart Piano Sonatas make for must-hear music no matter who or what you are. Nobody topped them for their special brilliance of invention, lyric and lively continualization, and sheer consistently plus wonderful thereness throughout all 18 of them. Part of that has to do with Mozart's love of his instrument of choice and too with the loving care with which the best performers approach the music. I cannot think of a better general exponent for this complete cycle than Ms.Yeol Eum Son and her recent release, who rings in just now with her beautiful played and recorded Complete Piano Sonatas  (Naive V8039 6 CD set).

Of course whenever listening through an entire cycle like this, it may gradually dawn on you like for me just how significant this slice of pianism was for then and so too for now. It is a vast treasure that may at first seem a fairly simple matter. But no, as you listen the simplicity semblance of a first blush grows deeper and you hear the depth in the rugged energy and articulate brilliance of the whole. And as you live with the chronology you begin to sense how early on Mozart's initial and life-long devotion to the piano keyboard allows him from the beginning to explore the wide band of possibilities inherent in the whole, how his inventive genius systematically develops the first real piano sound, of a consistently sympathetic reading of what the piano can do in Mozart's head and of course what he actually does at every step. This was music he thought people might like and he of course was so right!

And it is our reaction in part of course thanks very much to pianist Yeol Eum Son that we hear it all the way we do. She is ever a bundle of bright energy, of a subtle range of touch that brings all of it to life with poetic and eminently musical sureness that gives it all wonderous results, happily. She is in no hurry to impress but instead wisely lets the music unfold the way the composer intended, gradually maturing and becoming ever more brilliant. It is the music on a plane it deserves and demands to be on. Ms. Yeol Eum Son triumphs and we are all the better for it I think. Check this one out, do.

Listen to a stream if it. Please paste link in browser window: 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

William Bland, Sonata No. 9 "Spring," Nouveau Rag, Sonata No. 10, Kevin Gorman

William Bland, a New Music composer, walks among us (b 1947) and a recent album of his piano compositions gives us reasons to be happy about that. On this compilation, a second volume of the series, Kevin Gorman poetically performs the Sonata No. 9 "Spring," the Nouveau Rag and the Sonata No. 10 (Bridge CD 9580).

The music is substantial, lyrical and worth hearing. It has perhaps a residue of a Schumann, the further evolved expression of post-Lisztian voice, and perhaps, the ring of cascading Scriabin, only most times more thoroughly post-Romantic, a sometimes attractively strong shading of old Jazz and Ragtime especially in the Rag piece here, and a harmonic scaffolding that sometimes identifies it as very current I suppose you could say. As you listen repeatedly it all comes out as memorable and well invented, compositions with a full exposition of talented inventive pianisms and melodic-harmonic contentfulness. The final 10th Sonata gives us an especially exciting virtuosity that brims over with expression and sincerity. Give this your ears and see what you think.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Symphonic Chronicles. Vol. 1, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Miran Vaupotic, David Watkin


What is on tap today is some six symphonic works by some six new, new music composers in a compendium dubbed Symphonic Chronicles, Volume One (Navona NV6519).   Through the duration conductors Miran Vaupotic and David Watkin alternately, ably and poetically direct the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a series of tonal works with a narrative and lucidly descriptive way about them. Like perhaps Vaughan Williams in early days you listen and not so much ask yourself if  this is Modern so much as whether it communicates some special musical contents to us, is the music creating a world we want to experience and how does it do that? 

I think it does do that throughout. The music holds its own in varied and vital ways, with a definite personal voice on the part of each composer. Perhaps the most weighty and pronoiunced part of the album is Steve Law's nicely poised Piano Concerto. The pianism of the work is most pronounced and contemporary without necessarily  being atonal or avant. It reflects the expressive places the piano has occupied in recent years, in our sometimes  vaguely postmodern era, The orchestra and piano interact in memorable ways that make you glad to get to know the work. It is as Jazzy on the edges as it is Modern Classical and all the better for that. It like much of these works is devoted to a kind of lyrical management of light, an  exploration of sonic personal contours. Each work sets its own agenda and proceeds to realize it on its own terms, So we get some real chestnuts with five more works by the likes of Deborah Kavasch, John Wineglass, Barbara Jazwinski, Nan Avant and Simon Andrews. These may be new names to me but their works show a maturity and originality of purpose that is most heartening to get to know.