Listening to this disc of solo piano works by Michael
Mention, I was reminded of a programme I listened to many years ago
on Radio 3. The subject of the programme was "what is a tune."
The end result of the programme was that provided the note sequences
could be played on the instrument(s) for which it was written, then
it was a tune. The programme then developed the idea, taking into account
the levels of inspiration, which ended up with the great tunesmiths
who have delighted us over the years.
Michael Mention, I must say is some way down in the pecking
order by these criteria, for although his sound world is very pleasant
and I obtained a certain level of pleasure from his works, I had to
work very hard to discern in them what I would call a tune!
Still, by modern terms these works are not unpleasant.
Mention is a French-born naturalised American musician and, in addition
to the works on this disc, he has written for piano, quintets for both
brass, and woodwind, a quartet for saxophone, and a mass for mezzo-soprano,
mixed choir and orchestra.
The PRODigital recording, made by Sonny Ausman was produced
by Mention himself, and so I assume was made primarily for a promotional
item to be sold to audiences at his recitals. (I have no proof that
this statement is correct, but when the production and recording team
is as announced on the sleeve, this is the most likely scenario around
the recording). Other recordings by this company appear similarly to
be of the same nature. It is to our benefit then, that this disc is
available in the UK via Ludwig, as today we are able to experience the
music of many, many modern artists, and Michael Mention is by no means
Most of the works are relatively short, which is a good
thing, as many modern works outstay their welcome, and this does not
happen here. Indeed the most substantial work on the disc, Sonata No.
2, only lasts for under twenty minutes and this is by far the longest.
I would strongly recommend any purchaser not to play
this disc from start to finish in one go, but to select discrete pieces
to get to know the works better. This is a much better strategy than
full-out straight-through listening which then becomes a bit monotonous.
PRODigitals recording quality is really first rate achieving
a natural sound quality which allows the composers works to really make
an impact. By having him interpret his own works this should ensure
good performances, and I can detect no shortcomings in his technique
that may limit this.
Production is by the composer, and the whole product
is a first class offering the only drawback is the lack of sleeve notes,
which is a major problem if one wishes to find out more about the composer.
I was unable to find any reference to the composer on the net and so
I am unable to expand further.