Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Great piano music, powerfully played

From October 29, 2009:



The Spanish composer Jesus Rueda (b.1961) has found an impressive interpreter in the Indonesian pianist (and composer in his own right) Ananda Sukarlan. Rueda's piano music seems to be about poetry and power in equal measure, and Sukarlan provides both subtlety and muscle in his playing. The "Water Games" of Rueda's first Piano Sonata aren't pretty impressions of sylvan brooks. Rather, they have a relentless drive that might power a decent hydro-electric installation.

It's the second Sonata 'Ketjak,' I think, which is the stand-out here. The piece was dedicated to Sukarlan in 2005, and Rueda provides a eastern flavour in Sukarlan's honour (based on Balinese Kecak dance rhythms, according to Sukarlan's excellent liner notes). Both sonatas call for significant piano technique, as does the 1999 'Mephisto', a tour-de-force which Sukarlan calls "terrifying for pianists", though he gets through the piece with aplomb. Play this work and its Lisztian model to celebrate Hallowe'en.


The remaining pieces are all "characteristic" pieces in the long tradition of Schumann, Liszt, Prokofiev, Villa-Lobos, and many others. Interlude #13 `Notturno tells a horrifying & moving story in a minute. But pretty much all of these pieces find their mark, and the whole adds up to considerably more than the sum of its parts. I plan to listen to these often! The whole disc is recommended most highly!

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