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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

 

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Santiago LANCHARES (b. 1952)
Complete Piano Works
Anandamania
(2002) [7:24]
Dos Piezas para Alicia (2003) [1:41]
Dos Danzas y un Interludio (1995/1999) [10:45]
Cinco Amigos (1984) [3:00]
Dodecaedro Irregular (1998) [3:27]
Sonata for Piano (2001) [19:57]
En el Sendero (1999) [0:54]
Dos Invenciones (2000) [6:26]
Contra la Corriente (1991) [12:33]
Renacimiento de Castor (2004) [5:26]
Ananda Sukarlan (piano)
rec. Conservatorio Profesional de Musica de Getafe, Madrid, 12 May 2003, 28 May 2004
VERSO VRS 2028 [73:45]

 

 


This disc shows, in addition to the music itself - which should be of interest to contemporary piano music enthusiasts - the fruits of a long-time friendship between the composer and the pianist. The liner-notes don’t give specifics as to how they met, but Ananda Sukarlan has been around since Lanchares’s Op. 1, which is included here. The music has assurance and confidence, showing its influences and possessing an independent voice. Lanchares began composing rather late in his life; the Op. 1 just mentioned was put to paper in 1984. Since then he has composed for chamber ensembles of various combinations, as well as for the ballet stage. His main focus, beginning in the 1990s, has been for piano.

We begin the programme with a work dedicated to the pianist, Anandamania. The first composer to come to mind here is Prokofiev, though mixed with a good deal of Shchedrin. This piece is indicative of much that is to come on this disc — heavily syncopated, toccata-like. Anandamania fits a general fast-slow-fast format, with a reprise of the beginning thematic material, piling up the off-beats and meaty chords until the big gruff finish. Sukarlan, who also wrote the booklet commentary on the works included here, mentions that he had requested the piece, telling Lanchares he wanted a “speedy and catchy short piece to end his recital” of Lanchares’s works. It is certainly quite a curtain-closer. Sukarlan keeps things from becoming muddy and ill-defined while he is elbow-deep in notes, and the recording aesthetic does a good job of avoiding over-saturation when things get intense. 

The following Pieces for Alicia are very short and quiet and are dedicated to Sukarlan’s daughter. Both pieces are very short, the beginning of the first calling Scriabin to mind or the quieter moments of Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives. The second, entitled Silhouette, is a minute of shifting chords, rather Mompou-like in character; a lovely palate-cleanser before the earlier Two Dances and an Interlude. Each of these three pieces was originally intended to be free-standing, but they were put together some time after their initial composition. Bartok Danza gets things moving with a heavily syncopated and percussive rapidity. Los Ojos Abiertos (Open Eyes) serves as the central slow movement to the group, with more of a focus on atmosphere. Mompou’s fingerprint might be seen here. And Takemitsu too; the piece is intended as homage to Takemitsu, with the title a reference to Takemitsu’s Les Yeux Clos. The final piece Malabarista (The Juggler) returns to syncopations and polyrhythms, using a bewildering collection of chords played over a wide range of the keyboard as an illustration of the title of the work. 

Of the remaining pieces on this disc, the Piano Sonata of 2001 is a standout; a seriously-considered work, over a year in the writing. The first movement opens with a jangling reminiscent of wind-chimes, punctuated by grave statements from the left hand. There are moments when the tone warms a bit before the stern intonations in the bass return. We do have some hints of Latin rhythms and syncopation, but overall the mood is uniform up to the end of the first movement, where we have a quick show of virtuosity before the ending cadence. The second-movement Adagio has the deep moodiness — as does most of this work — of a Mosolov Nocturne, with a wide stretch: the left hand shifting uneasily in the lowest notes as the right runs and trills in the upper register. The four movements indicate a more formal structure to this sonata, but, aside from the nod to a scherzo­-like third movement, we have little that would remind us of a typical four-movement sonata. Sukarlan light-heartedly states that if the sonata were a book it would be titled “The Complete and Unabridged Guide to How to Treat (Multiple) Rhythms, Meters, and Speed.” Rather long-winded for a title, but you get the picture. For those who enjoy Mosolov, look no further. 

Much of the work on this disc has very strongly delineated left- and right-hand parts, giving the pieces somewhat of a contrapuntal nature. The two outrightly-contrapuntal pieces, the Dos Invenciones of 2000, call to mind the Polyphonic Notebook of Rodion Shchedrin, though not as aggressively dissonant. Sukarlan plays these with clear articulation and definition. A couple of the notes in the upper register for the recording of the second Invention sound a touch tinny, but this is of small consequence. The pieces on this disc as a whole hold interest and, above all, have substance. The recording ambience is clear and does not distract from Sukarlan’s quite enjoyable playing.

David Blomenberg





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