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Dace APERĀNE (b.1953)
Sounds and Echoes
Sarabande [3:14]
Three Haiku [9:36]
Allegheny Air and Dance [3:33]
Cimbalom [8:38]
Two Dreams [6:41]
Mistakenly I Entered [1:36]
Kokle's Song [1:28]
Nocturnes [4:17]
Mosaic [5:39]
Red Balloon [5:18]
Edith I [2:38]; II [1:04]; III [3:44]
Green Star (musical) Romance [2:35]
Diāna Zandberga (piano)
rec. Great Hall of RSU, 2015
SKANI LMIC044 [60:15]

Dace Aperāne was born in Winnipeg, Canada of Latvian parents. Over the years she has studied with a range of composers including David Loeb (Mannes College) and Louise Talma (Fontainebleau Summer School). She teaches in both Latvia and the USA. Her compositions often draw on Latvian folk sources. As for this disc's brilliantly sympathetic pianist, Diāna Zandberga, she has studied with Lazar Berman (Milan) and for four years with Alicia de Larrocha (Barcelona).

This disc - suited and booted as to recordings and booklet - lets us hear some of Aperāne's piano music in both original works and arrangements. The longest piece here is Cimbalom and the shortest, at 1:04, Intermission from the Edith ballet. Before this I had just finished listening to the LMIC CD of recent compositions by fellow-Latvian Andris Dzenītis. There could hardly be a greater contrast. I hope it is not presumptuous to say that while Dzenītis is a fellow traveller in the productive company of dissonance, Aperāne takes communicative delight in directly spoken beauty. In her case there is no struggle to gain an appreciation of the blessed things that she has to say. They are laid out in front of the listener's ears without even the appearance of artifice.

Aperāne's lambent and idyllic music is eloquent and silver-tongued. It belongs among the works of that broad school of composers which includes Lionel Sainsbury, Elena Kats-Chernin, William Blezard, Philip Gates, Donostia and Mompou. After a placid and centred Satie-like Sarabande, which feels not at all archaic, a few of the later tracks include a more 'advanced' approach as in Cimbalom (tr. 7). That piece involves plucking the internal strings of the piano to catch some of the quality of the Hungarian instrument used so memorably in Kodály's Háry János. Otherwise many of these pieces are of such resilient delicacy as to suggest a secret garden within a secret garden: the grounds of some walled palace within the miniature world of Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye.

Mosaic and Red Balloon are pieces of some substance and in their case the language becomes more advanced as if Aperāne's 'island' has encountered the piano music of Olivier Messiaen and is indeed "full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not". The three extracts from the ballet Edith offer the ever-pecking Dance of the Sparrow, the salon sentimental Intermission and the ragtime Dance of the Friends. The recital ends with the simple song melody that is Romance from the musical Green Star.

Rob Barnett



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