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Arnold ROSNER (b. 1945)
Adam and Eve op. 4 (1961) [4:16]
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F major op. 25 (1963) [15:09]
Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major op. 48 (1970) [11:50]
And he sent forth a dove op. 49 (1971) [2:06]
Wedding March op. 53 (1971) [2:48]
Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor Sonata Eterea op. 69 (1978) [15:13]
Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) op. 99 (1993) [8:07]
Donna Amato (piano)
rec. Patrych Sound Studios, Bronx, 16-18 June 2008. DDD
ALBANY TROY1119 [59:31]
Experience Classicsonline

Rosner is one of my enthusiasms as a search of his name on this site will reveal. That we stand in urgent need of complete recordings of his symphonies and quartets - six of each - does nothing to demean the satisfactions of the present disc which arrived out of the blue only recently.

His music is modal and at times can sound a little like a Vaughan Williams and Bloch consortium. Its strongly distinctive - radiating a stern romantic dignity. You can hear it instantly in the modal writing of the sixteen year old composer's Adam and Eve. It's a piece which also has a Bloch-like sinuous sway as well as that reserved eloquence which then darts off into Lisztian mephisto regions. The First Sonata comes from only two years later. Like its two successors it is in three movements and is brief - none of them exceeds 16 minutes. These track through Bartókian insistence which is delightfully disrupted by explosive jagged little treble figures. A remorseful Largo is redolent of the excerpts I have heard from his grand Tudor opera. Gigantic flourishes of sound add majesty while the Allegro con spirito is hard yet hailstone jazzy.

Seven years on and we encounter the less consonant Second Sonata which the composer relates to the crashing and sometimes motoric Bartók and Prokofiev sonatas. That feels right as an image of the martellato sound-world but modality and dignity is admixed again. And He sent forth a dove and Wedding March are brevities being respectively jaunty-hurried and steady-processional. The Sonata Eterea is dedicated to Elliott and Ruth Litsky who the composer tells us liked the aggression of his writing well enough but preferred the mellower aspect. The latter can be heard in the lovely benign curve of the music which moves in realms between Urmis Sisask, Rubbra and RVW. Possibly to reflect his regard for the dedicatees this sonata breaks the pattern of its two predecessors and has two slow movements encasing a fast-ish Pastorale centre. The final Benediction is a centre of peace - affecting and serene. Lastly we have Etz Chaim: a single span of music - serious, starry, mildly dissonant and carried rhapsodically along yet at the same time ineluctable in its flow.

This music is occasionally reminiscent of the style of Howells Clavichord cycles yet the emotional ambit of the pieces is broad the heart sturdy and leonine.

You could also further acquaint yourself with the Rosner music for piano by opting also for Albany TROY 163.

The notes are by the composer.

Donna Amato is a sincere and determinedly individual pianist. The concert world has need of her sort. She is a pupil of Kentner, Casadesus and Agosti. Her advocacy of Sorabji on Altarus is by no means an exclusive thing as we can see and hear in this most expressively performed and strongly recorded disc. I hope you will forgive me for an aside in hoping that Amato will soon record the six Sorabji piano concertos.

Rosner is in command of a distinctive equipoise between melodic dignity and consonant eloquence.

Rob Barnett



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