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Alma DEUTSCHER (b. 2005)
From My Book of Melodies
Alma Deutscher (piano)
rec. 2019, Fazioli Concert Hall, Sacile, Italy
SONY CLASSICAL 19075990192 [50:36]

Alma Deutscher’s Book of Melodies tells her story. It seems just like a diary, and it is marvellous that she has selected some of the secret beauties of her thoughts to share with us in a musical biography, as this is what From My Book of Melodies is really about: one composition or a melody from each of the last eleven years of her life, starting from the age of four, giving a unique insight into her musical mind and revealing some hitherto unknown gems.

She tells her story herself in her music, in her arrangements, in her playing of the piano and in her writing of the booklet texts in both English and German. The latter features some charming descriptions of her compositions and how they came into being. Sometimes, especially when she was very young, it might have been just a couple of musical thoughts and fragments of melodies that she wrote down; she could read music before learning the alphabet. Now she has put these melodies into a bigger context and arranged them for this release. Other of her compositions have already been performed in a different context, such as her outstandingly beautiful When the Day Falls into Darkness from her opera Cinderella, which she has now arranged for piano solo. For me, however, that works better with the full colours of the orchestra – which Alma knows exactly how to employ to get the shades she envisions in her mind – than on the piano. On the other hand, Up in the Sky, also a wonderfully melodious aria from Cinderella, works very well in her transcription for the piano. In Memoriam, adapted from the Adagio of her piano concerto, is well-suited for piano solo, and she plays it with great feeling. All the while, it is hard to bear in mind that she has yet to turn fifteen this year; her compositions have so much depth, shadow and light that one could be forgiven for assuming that they were composed by someone with much more experience of both the wonders and the dreariness of life. It is splendid to see such a young composer who focuses on the timeless beauties of tonal music being given a chance in this world. She has captured this niche and I very much hope that she will not deviate too much from it in the coming years so that we may enjoy more of her classical compositions; I cannot for the life of me see why she should not.

I am very much looking forward to her next CD. Her portfolio is vast: one opera (released on DVD by Sony Classical), a piano concerto, a violin concerto, orchestral pieces such as waltzes and several songs and lieder, which sadly are not yet available on CD - and of course Alma keeps composing, so we are sure to be in for more treats in the coming years. Having both her opera and now some of her melodies released by Sony Classical confirms her undoubtedly rightful footing in the serious, contemporary classical music world. Long may it remain so!

Max Burgdörfer

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