Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Latest Posts

Ernst Pepping and Allan Pettersson: Moral Dilemmas in Symphonic Music
"The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and... "
Tell the Birds
Soundtrack to an Apocalypse
Feast Your Ears: New Music for Piano
Gone For Foreign
Fred Lerdahl: Time After Time
Nothing Sacred
Two From Wayne Horvitz
Two Fresh Cantaloupes

Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Saturday, December 18, 2004 Saturday, December 25, 2004 Friday, December 31, 2004 Wednesday, January 05, 2005 Monday, January 10, 2005 Thursday, January 13, 2005 Thursday, January 20, 2005 Sunday, January 23, 2005 Monday, January 24, 2005 Saturday, January 29, 2005 Wednesday, February 02, 2005 Thursday, February 03, 2005 Monday, February 07, 2005 Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Friday, February 11, 2005 Monday, February 14, 2005 Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Tuesday, February 22, 2005 Monday, February 28, 2005 Sunday, March 06, 2005 Monday, March 07, 2005 Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Sunday, March 13, 2005 Friday, March 18, 2005 Monday, March 28, 2005 Saturday, April 02, 2005 Monday, April 11, 2005 Sunday, April 17, 2005 Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Monday, April 25, 2005 Monday, May 02, 2005 Monday, May 09, 2005 Tuesday, May 17, 2005 Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Monday, June 06, 2005 Thursday, June 16, 2005 Sunday, June 19, 2005 Sunday, July 10, 2005 Wednesday, July 13, 2005 Sunday, July 24, 2005 Friday, July 29, 2005 Monday, August 08, 2005 Monday, August 22, 2005 Wednesday, August 24, 2005 Friday, September 16, 2005 Sunday, September 25, 2005 Tuesday, October 04, 2005 Tuesday, October 18, 2005 Monday, October 24, 2005 Tuesday, November 01, 2005 Monday, November 07, 2005 Saturday, November 12, 2005 Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Friday, December 16, 2005 Monday, January 09, 2006 Thursday, January 12, 2006 Thursday, January 19, 2006 Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Thursday, February 02, 2006 Monday, February 13, 2006 Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Wednesday, March 01, 2006 Sunday, March 19, 2006 Sunday, March 26, 2006 Friday, March 31, 2006 Sunday, April 09, 2006 Monday, April 10, 2006 Thursday, April 20, 2006 Friday, April 21, 2006 Thursday, May 11, 2006 Thursday, May 18, 2006 Saturday, May 20, 2006 Friday, June 02, 2006 Tuesday, June 06, 2006 Friday, June 16, 2006 Monday, June 19, 2006 Sunday, June 25, 2006 Monday, June 26, 2006 Monday, July 10, 2006 Thursday, July 13, 2006 Thursday, July 20, 2006 Friday, July 21, 2006 Sunday, July 23, 2006 Thursday, August 03, 2006 Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Powered by Blogger

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Feast Your Ears: New Music for Piano

Renoir's Feast / Pictures at an Exhibition
Haskell Small / Modest Mussorgsky
Haskell Small: piano.
Museum Music MM141

Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-3 / Moments Musicaux / Azerbaijani Dance / Prelude No. 1

Avner Dorman
Eliran Avni: piano.
Naxos 8.579001

Commissioned by Washington, DC's Phillips Collection to commemorate its reacquisition of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, Haskell Small has interpreted the painting with a programmatic piano work that wisely steers clear of obvious choices. While Renoir's Feast contains elements of French Impressionism, Small's rich harmonic language is equally informed by twentieth century post-tonality. Constructing a narrative around the social gathering depicted in Renoir's scenario, Small has written distinctive piano sketches that correspond to each character, linking the sketches with a recurring "river" theme.

A noteworthy feature of Renoir's painting is that it freezes a moment of bustling social activity. Thus, Small's linear interpretative approach is an admittedly curious one; nevertheless, he imbues his harmonically dense work with sufficient emotional resonance. For example, the sketches that depict Renoir and his future wife Aline Charigot both evoke Stephen Foster, though filtered through a lens of Ivesian dissonance.

A concert pianist of renown, Small supplements his own performance of Renoir's Feast with a rendition of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, making clear the influence of Exhibition's promenade structure on Small's composition. He performs both pieces with a light and dexterous touch. One could nitpick that he lacks an aggressive edge, but that is not Small's style. The excellent performance and sound of Renoir's Feast do full justice to a substantial and impressive addition the piano repertoire.

Transitioning from the modernism of Small's offering to the postmodern piano works of young Israeli-American composer Avner Dorman, one encounters a less institutionally based conception of keyboard music. Much academic thought maintains that art music and popular music are distinct entities, but Dorman's generation recognizes its still-emerging, all-encompassing cultural identity.

The earliest Dorman piece compiled by Naxos for its 21st Century Classics series was written at age 17, before the composer had received any formal compositional training. At that formative stage, Dorman was already hybridizing jazz and Bach. His subsequent output reveals a gradual harmonic sophistication, but eclecticism remains a hallmark of his work. He does not employ polystylism for its own sake, but to support the dramatic elements in his music: for example, Dance Suite conveys the story of a blind oud player who is fascinated by his introduction to contemporary sounds. Systematically, the piece merges those sounds with the oud player's traditional Arabic dances. Elsewhere, Dorman draws from rock, Broadway, Beethoven, Art Tatum, and countless other sources. Eliran Avni's performances of Dorman's works expertly balance virtuosity with elegant simplicity, which is especially remarkable considering Avni's youth. These skillfully executed compositions whet the appetite for a disc by Avner Dorman's rock outfit, Innovation.

Haskell Small's music surprises with its complexity, Dorman's with its accessibility; each of these CDs anticipates a bright future for piano music, one that is unencumbered by distinctions between "high" and "low" art.


Search WWWSearch