From Hammers to Bytes
Music of Wernick and Primosch
Keyboard virtuoso Lambert Orkis is heard in the premiere recordings of two major works, dedicated to and composed for this remarkable artist. Orkis is perhaps most well-known for his partnerships with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, but has also had a career as a performer on period keyboard instruments and as the principal keyboardist for the National Symphony Orchestra. Orkis has also had a long relationship with the two composers on this recording, having been the dedicatee of Wernick’s Piano Sonata No. 1 and Piano Concerto, and as a duo partner with composer/pianist Primosch. Wernick’s Piano Sonata No. 2 is a thirty-six minute essay in three parts. The work alternates intense toccata-like passages with stretches of almost glacial calm. The first and last movements are basically mirror images of one another, so the listener gets to hear similar music from a different perspective with the resulting new connections experienced. In Primosch’s Sonata-Fantasia, a Kurzweil synthesizer serves to amplify and expand the timbral possibilities of the piano. The forty minute work opens with a set of 14 variations on an original theme. These variations sometimes take as models keyboard textures created by past masters, including Bach, Schubert, and Chopin. The slow movement is meditative and the finale is jazzy. The whole work is a remarkable testament to Orkis’s virtuosity, with the performer often required to play both keyboards simultaneously.
“Performances are as authoritative as one would expect, recorded in an acoustic which projects the music with clarity while giving it room to breathe. Informative notes from Orkis and the composers enhance appreciation of the disc, cordially recommended for highlighting aspects of American new music refreshingly at variance with the prescribed aesthetic now reaching these shores.” - Gramophone
“Orkis does these things so well, I don’t even think of them as new music, but as music. It couldn’t have been easy. What a terrific player.” - Classical CD Review
Lambert Orkis, piano and synthesizer