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Etz Chaim Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 9 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Albany Records
  • ASIN: B0028Z2UJY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
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Product Description

Etz chaim: Piano Music of Arnold Rosner

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa5f47048) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Steve Schwartz, Austin - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Let it be noted that I am a Rosner fan. Indeed, I think him one of the best composers now writing. However, this is an album for people already interested in Rosner rather than for those (I suspect, most people reading these reviews) who want to make his acquaintance.

Like most composers, Rosner isn't a pianist. He plays to compose. Furthermore, he isn't particularly drawn to the piano. His best piano writing occurs in his accompaniments and in his masterful two-piano piece Of Numbers and Bells. I strongly doubt he'll ever write a piano concerto. He's much more drawn to strings, winds, and brass sonorities and to counterpoint not really suited to the piano. Nevertheless, like most composers, he started out as an adolescent writing mainly piano work. After all, the piano is one instrument which produces several voices and where you can get immediate feedback from what you've written. Not many kids have access to an orchestra or to chamber instrumentalists, for that matter.

Many of these works, some written before he was 20, seem dictated by Rosner's piano technique at the time he wrote them. There's not a lot of textural variety in Adam and Eve or the First Piano Sonata, for example, and passages go on longer than the young composer can sustain. At times, you feel harangued.

Nevertheless, I can understand the appeal of pieces like And He Sent Forth a Dove, the Wedding March, and the Third Sonata. Rosner wants to move a listener. There are passages in all these works that do so. Indeed, I wish he would rescore them for chamber ensemble or orchestra. They don't strike me as particularly well-suited to the piano.

My favorite work is the Second Sonata -- for me, the most fully-realized as music. The bugaboo of insufficient textural variation has been overcome. The arguments are taut.

I would recommend any other Rosner disc before this one. Particular favorites are the Symphony #5 on Naxos and the several discs of chamber music on Albany. This is one powerful composer who, like any other, should be judged by his considerable best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa79cd72c) out of 5 stars Rosner's Keyboard World Nov. 11 2009
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
Format: Audio CD
On the Amazon website I have reviewed a number of CDs devoted to the work of Arnold Rosner, a New Yorker whose music in all genres is couched in an immediately appealing tonal idiom drawing also on the modes of Medieval plainchant and Jewish cantilation. Rosner has composed a large body of work in the five decades of his active mature artistic life. He has had the fortune in recent decades of an appreciable number of recorded performances to disseminate his music including, recently, a CD program of his three numbered piano sonatas and other, shorter works for piano. Rosner's music has virtues galore, not least clarity of structure that aids powerfully in admitting lay-listeners to his artistic world. Consider the piece "Adam and Eve," an expression of Rosner's adolescence that attests his early development and that forecasts the confidence of his mature oeuvre. The main motif of the work is derived from the rhythmic pulse of the phrase "Adam and Eve" and the composer works out the material melodically while never losing sight of the basic pulse. The three piano sonatas neatly punctuate the chronology of Rosner's creativity. Rosner is basically a sonata-form composer, not averse however to rhapsodic development of thematic material on the model of the Renaissance madrigal or the Baroque keyboard fantasy. The material is memorable and gratifying. Nowhere, contrary to the claim in a Fanfare Magazine review, does Rosner "sound like" Hovhaness, or inflict insipidity on the listener, or otherwise violate musical propriety or insult musical integrity. That review is one of the most egregious that I have seen. Let us suppose the absolute right of the reviewer to dislike Rosner's music. He would have been truer to morality simply to disdain to address the disc and its program. The editor of journal, if he knew in advance that the reviewer would be so averse to the assignment, might have done the civilized thing and sent the CD to another member of his writing staff.

To return to the music: Sonata No. 1, in three movements, has an identifiable American sound; it eschews excessive chromaticism in its harmonies and relies on open chord-structures and traditional harmonic progressions. On the other hand, it demonstrates the composer's contrapuntal skills, interweaving melodic voices ingeniously. Orchestrated, Sonata No. 1 would make a convincing Symphonia Brevis. Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3 are more complex, more motivic in their construction than thematic, and showing an awareness of the kinds of musical processes that one encounters in the music, say, of Bartok or Hindemith. In Sonata No. 2, Rosner avails himself of Baroque forms: two toccatas frame a central passacaglia. The passacaglia is especially moving. Rosner often incorporates "Jewish" motifs, as did Ernest Bloch; and occasional melismas are reminiscent of the Synagogue, but it is an "ethnic flavor" sparingly introduced. Perhaps such touches led the Fanfare reviewer to think of Hovhaness, whose copious output does entail repetition and a good deal of formulaic writing in mock-Eastern styles. That has nothing to do with Rosner.

One can understand readily why the pianist Donna Amato invests in this music. One can understand why Albany, a CD producer of impeccable taste, has issued the album.