MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World


all Nimbus reviews



all tudor reviews


Follow us on Twitter


Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987)
Intermission 5 (1952) [4:24]
George CRUMB (b. 1929)
Processional (1983) [9:49]
Morton FELDMAN
Piano Piece 1952 [3:39]
Extensions 3 (1952) [5:30]
George CRUMB
A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 (1980) [13:06]
Morton FELDMAN
Palais de Mari (1986) [26:16]
Steven Osborne (piano)
rec. 10 December 2014, Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth.
HYPERION CDA68108 [62:46]

Dan Morgan reviewed this as a download and declared that it would be “hard to imagine this… being more sensitively and authoritatively executed. The music’s micrometer-like changes of colour, dynamics and duration are just extraordinary”. With this I concur entirely. Such music demands close-up and detailed recording, and this Hyperion disc captures all of the subtleties of Steven Osborne’s performances.

The earlier Morton Feldman pieces are miniatures by comparison with many of his later works, which seem to inhabit infinity. Exploration of sonority and a highly individual approach are all present however, and there are sounds in Intermission 5 that open a window onto these possibilities, as well as making use of harder-hitting expressionist percussiveness. Piano Piece 1952 ranges over the keyboard in single notes, negating rhythm but creating an abstract design very much of its period. Extensions 3 is more of a sketch on infinite horizons, with few high notes examined like diamonds in a series of repetitive but deeply controlled gestures. Feldman concludes this programme with the much later Palais de Mari, which is part of his reflection in music of a fascination with exotic rug design, each returning sonority changed slightly in a similar way to these handmade artifacts. This was indeed his final piano work, and it has all of the refined poise of those fascinatingly landscape-like late pieces such as Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello.

George Crumb’s A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 in its celebration of Christ’s nativity and Messiaen-like expressiveness has to be the best known and most frequently recorded work in this collection. There’s Jeffrey Jacob on the Centaur label and Philip Mead’s complete Crumb piano edition on Métier (review). The Bridge label has to be considered for its continuing and excellent series of Crumb’s complete oeuvre, this particular work is on Bridge 9028. There are many others and no duds that I know of, though I haven’t heard them all. Steven Osborne performs with supreme musicality, effortless technique and pinpoint sensitivity to dynamics and colour, the recording picking up every resonance in a work that often works on the quietest of effects. If you need to be convinced, have a listen to the magical atmosphere of the Canticle of the Holy Night, in which the ‘Coventry Carol’ appears, gently strummed on the strings of the piano, while Crumb’s own notes sparkle above like stars in a clear nocturnal sky.

Processional is another reasonably familiar Crumb work, in which pulsing chords form “an experiment in harmonic chemistry”, the close-knit tonalities decorated with little complementary melodic cells. Comparing Osborne to the more heavy-handed Mead here shows where the former’s subtlety creates a more winning colour and atmosphere, starting from a bewitching quietness, and working towards climaxes that have plenty of power while keeping something in reserve, never stamping on the piano keys, and creating a landscape in which delicacy is the default character of the work – a threatened delicacy it has to be said, though the weight of each threat always quickly disperses and is overtaken by affection and luminosity of tone.

I’m always banging on about the accessibility of much contemporary music, and would use several tracks from this recording to demonstrate the case if asked to deliver a lecture on the subject. Exploring George Crumb’s remarkable music is always a treat, and I would suggest forays into the Bridge label’s catalogue to seek out further discoveries. As it is, this is one of the finest piano recordings I’ve encountered this year.

Dominy Clements

Previous review: Dan Morgan

 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount