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alternatively Crotchet

Irén Marik - From Mozart to Messiaen
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Préludes Book 1 (1910)

La cathédrale engloutie [5:57]

Voiles [3:18]

Le vent dans la plaine [2:26]

Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest [3:33]

Préludes Book 11 (1910-13)

Ondine [3:05]

General Lavine – excentric [2:41]

Les fees sont d’exquises danseuses [3:03]

La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune [4:07]
Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945)

Perpetuum mobile (Mikrokosmos no.135) [1:13]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Visions de l'Amen (1943) [50:03]

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Un Sospiro [5:45]
Sonata in B minor [29:07]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Rondo in D, K.485 [4:51]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827

Sonata no. 24, op. 78 [7:58]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Impromptu Op. 142/3 [7:30]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Intermezzo Op. 117/1 [4:13]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Fantasiestücke Op.12 (1838) - Des Abends [3:00]

Fantasiestücke Op.12 (1838) - Aufschwung [3:12]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Images – Reflets dans l’eau [5:12]

Preludes - Les collines d’Anacapri [2:59]

Suite bergamasque – Clair de lune [4:03]

Irén Marik (piano)

John Ranck (1st piano) and Irén Marik (2nd piano) - Messiaen
recorded 1952-1981

ARBITER 152 [79:51 + 78:41]


Experience Classicsonline

This is the third volume in Arbiter’s admirable salute to the little-known Irén Marik. I’ve written about a previous release, Bartók in the Desert and you can follow the review here. The salute is timely and necessary; Marik was a formidable, though modest musician and the excavation of these performances enhances still further her posthumous reputation.


Her Messiaen Visions de l'Amen is performed with John Ranck who’s at the first piano. Together they form a tremendous team, vital, galvanizing, brazen when necessary, abrupt and pulsing with absorbed awareness. Ranck incidentally should also be saluted, as it was he who persuaded a record company to record Carl Friedberg before it was too late – Marston has reissued the performances and they are a testament both to Friedberg’s still extant magnificence as an interpreter and to Ranck’s persistence and historical imagination. He was no mean pianist either as this Messiaen demonstrates without equivocation. The pulsing figures of Amen des êtoiles are powerfully realised, the attacks burnished or jagged, and Amen de l’Agonie de Jésus is brooding and of tensile strength. They find romantic expressivity and well-detailed dynamics in Amen du Désir and scurrying, dramatic power as well. The Judgement is taut, biting. There’s a very brief tape blip at 1:16 into the Amen de la Consommation but the heroic ensemble is intact to the last.


The first volume also houses some estimable Debussy performances. She summons up a necessary sense of anticipation in La cathédrale engloutie very different to, but equally powerfully as, say, Daniel Ericourt [Ivory Classics] in his set of the composer’s music. She prefers a more malleable haze; he goes more for George Copeland-like clarity. I like her General Lavine – excentric Cakewalk very much; a fully blowsy affair. There’s more Debussy in the second disc. And it is equally evocative, personalised and impressive, not least Reflets dans l’eau.


There are some valuable examples of her Liszt here as well. Un Sospiro has a few minor slips. The Sonata feasts on powerfully etched contrasts. She’s quite light on the pedal, and dares some unusually phrased passages. This is all in one take and the recording can’t capture her dynamic range or what I suspect was a greater sense of romantic amplitude than ultimately comes across. As a result it’s not an especially tidy performance – if that’s your yardstick – but it is a human one. The Mozart Rondo is buoyant and the Beethoven sonata powerfully negotiated. Her Schubert Impromptu has a playful limpidity as well as reflective, almost funereal moments. Needless to say her solitary Brahms here, the Intermezzo in E flat Op.117 No.1, is warmly arched. Sagging tape pitch imperils Des Abends but fortunately Aufschwung is better and was recorded at a higher level.


Full praise is due once again to Arbiter’s documentation and to its determination to honour Marik’s memory. It does so with great commitment and assurance.


Jonathan Woolf




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