Andrew Rangell, piano
Andrew Rangell's latest disc is a series of five 20th century sonatas by four of the century's leading composers. Ernesto Halffter, a native of Madrid, came from a musically accomplished family. The Sonata (1926-32) is saturated with materials presented in the very first measure. Three distinct themes, deftly connected, appear in the exposition, whose motoric and spiky counterpoint has a distinct Stravinskian feel. At the age of 80 Halffter delivered a second one-movement piano sonata, a confection in honor of Scarlatti. During his lifetime, George Enescu was best known as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the early 20th century and as the mentor of Yehudi Menuhin. He was also a concert-level pianist and an internationally active conductor. His greatest gift to the world may well prove to be the body of music he created. The F sharp minor sonata (the first of two major sonatas) was first performed by the composer in Bucharest (1925) and Paris (1926). Enescu's use of the piano, clearly French in influence, is nonetheless absolutely personal and everywhere richly expressive. Found frequently in details of harmony and melody are fleeting evocations of Romanian folk-music. Writing in the booklet notes, Andrew Rangell says that "there are few more important or beautiful piano sonatas from the early 20th century", and this stunning performance makes a case for that claim. Stravinsky's Sonata is spare in texture, modest in scale, devoid of conventional virtuosity, and also (like the physical specimen of the composer himself in 1924) taut, wiry, and buzzing with energy. It has achieved the status of "classic" in the instrument's repertoire. Janáček's Sonata, "Oct. 1, 1905" was written in anguished response to events in Brno during 1905, when that capital city was under Austro-Hungarian rule. In the midst of a large demonstration, an unarmed worker was murdered by imperial troops. The date was Oct. 1, 1905. The sonata (also subtitled "From the Streets") is a highly unusual work, full of an atmosphere of doom and grief. This is Andrew Rangell's fifth release for Bridge. The Chicago-born pianist's recordings have received ecstatic praise. Writing of Rangell's last Bridge CD, an all Bach recital, The International Record Review called him "a free-thinker among pianists- a master of graded dynamics and the long crescendo. Rangell's consistently provocative playing and ideas are so interesting that we can hardly keep ourselves from appreciating them."
Andrew Rangell, piano
Sonata per Pianoforte (1926-32)
Sonata: "Homenaje a Domenico Scarlatti" (1985)
Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 24, No. 1 (1924)
Sonata -"Oct. 1, 1905" (1905)