As already mentioned in another review, Frederik van
Rossum, who is also a gifted pianist, has composed a great deal of piano
music, including some large-scale cycles such as Twelve Miniatures
Op.10 (1964) and his more recent set of Twelve Preludes
Op.44 (1985/6) which is the most substantial work in the present
survey of his recent piano output.
The Twelve Preludes Op.44 is a substantial
cycle in which van Rossum explores many varied contrasted moods and
emotions while exploiting the piano’s expressive possibilities without
ever resorting to the sort of "gimmickry" too often found
(and often uselessly so) in present day piano music. This is undoubtedly
his finest piano work so far.
The other pieces recorded here are generally shorter,
still superbly crafted, often demanding but always hugely rewarding.
In Memoriam Glenn Gould Op.43 (1984) pays homage to the
Canadian pianist whose playing made a deep impression on van Rossum.
It does so by alluding to some characteristics of Gould’s piano playing.
Ballade Op.49 (1984) and Waves Op.51 (1990)
have much in common: the big waves evoked in Waves are,
as it were, echoed by the grand lyrical outbursts in Ballade.
The title of Black and White Op.40 (1982)
refers to the particular playing technique used in the piece: left hand
on black keys and right hand on white keys. As is always the case in
van Rossum’s music, formal grip and almost improvisatory freedom go
hand in hand, always aiming at communication, whatever the techniques
in play. This is also the reason why van Rossum’s music appeals to critics,
performers and audiences alike.
The young French pianist Frédéric Menguy
is a gifted player and a dedicated performer of these consistently fine
and attractive pieces by a composer who knows what he wants to say and
how to say it in his most direct, though uncompromising way. Menguy’s
excellent readings are given a warm, natural recorded sound.