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24 Intermezzi; Petite Suite

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Product Details

  • Performer: Eliane Reyes
  • Composer: Tansman Alexandre
  • Audio CD (Dec 14 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B00480782Q
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,224 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Polish by birth, Alexandre Tansman settled in France in 1919 where he soon joined the ranks of the most prominent French and other European composers and musicians of the time. After many years of undeserved neglect, his vast catalogue of music is being r

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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa6cd2720) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6b4466c) out of 5 stars A Real Discovery! Dec 18 2010
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986) was a French composer who was born and educated in his native Poland; he moved the Paris in 1920 where he met and was encouraged by Ravel and Stravinsky. He received much acclaim in his early years but eventually his music became less often played. In my fifty-plus years of concert-going I've only heard one of his works: his Second Piano Concerto which impressed me a good deal. And I'd heard little on record over the years. This disc featuring solo piano works has, then, turned out to be a lucky discovery for me. I've been playing the 24 Intermezzi virtually non-stop for the past few days, entranced by their style and substance. Tansman's music is heavily influenced by the Impressionists, with chords of the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth making frequent appearances along with chromaticism and polytonalism. It is hard to describe his music but there is a good deal of Scriabin, Ravel and insistent Stravinskyan polyrhythms. There are Polish features as well -- mazurka rhythms and rustic folk tunes. The newly developed neoclassicism of the 1920s and 1930s also informs his style. Being Jewish, he and his family were forced to flee France in 1940 (just after he had received French citizenship) and eventually settled in Los Angeles, joining the expatriate community of composers such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Milhaud. He wrote several film scores while in Southern California before moving back to France in 1946.

The 24 Intermezzi were written in 1939/40 in his last years in France. They are brief entries in a compositional diary. Although they don't have subtitles, they convey moods, events and opinions of the composer. Taken as a group they are fresh, appealing and strikingly original while fairly easy for the listener to grasp. One hears facile counterpoint (No. 11), ostinati (as in the four-note bass line in the march-like No. 12), an atonal toccata à la George Perle [but years before Perle!], highly original harmonies (No. 13), homage to earlier composers (Fauré in No. 7, Bach in No. 11, Chopin in No. 16, Brahms in No. 23), all wrapped in Tansman's easily recognizable style. This collection of Intermezzi is not well-known; indeed, this is first recording of them I've ever run into. But they are worthy of a place in the solo piano recital repertoire. They have been a real discovery for me.

The disc is rounded out by the early 'Petite Suite' (1917-1919), written when Tansman was still in Poland and the brief Valse-Impromptu (1940) which lasts all of 1:46. The Petite Suite, written when Tansman was 20 or so, sounds like him but clearly owes a good deal to Scriabin and Chopin. The Valse-Impromptu was written for a ballet dancer, one Lycette Darsonval, and is a rather more-chromatic-than-Ravel dance

The pianist here, Eliane Reyes, is a young Frenchwoman who has been rightly praised by such luminaries as Martha Argerich and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Her playing on this disc is supple, delicately perfumed, nuanced, musicianly. I will be playing this disc a lot over the years I suspect.

Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa709c5f0) out of 5 stars Compelling Dec 20 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Interest in the music of Aleksander Tansman has apparently perked up the last couple of years, but there is an argument to be made that his piano music is, on the whole, not where his most interesting music is to be found. He wrote quite a bit of it, however, though primarily miniatures or collections of short pieces. A typical example would be the little - and frankly rather forgettable - Valse-impromptu that is dispatched with flair and charm in this performance, at least. The Petite suite, similarly, is not particularly memorable, but at least the brevity of the pieces ensures that nothing manages to outstay its welcome.

The 24 intermezzi is a different matter, but a warning is in order: Tansman wrote these pieces in four sets containing six pieces each, and I do not recommend trying to listen to all 24 in one sitting. They contain a wealth of details, colors and variety, which is hard to appreciate if one takes too many in one go. The general character of the Intermezzi is light and playful, and stylistically they will perhaps remind one of Szymanowski's late piano works. The apparent lightness should not be taken to indicate that the music lacks profundity any more than the Chopin mazurkas do, and while I would be reluctant to make too big claims for any of them, I am certainly glad to have heard them.

They are also marvelously played by Eliane Reyes - indeed, I can hardly imagine a more compelling advocacy; she has clearly given each individual piece some thought, and the results are appropriately variegated and compelling. I suppose Naxos could have put some more effort into the engineering, however; the piano is somewhat hard and artificial-sounding, although it is, overall, not a huge problem. Recommended.

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