Classical CD Reviews

HOWARD HERSH: Angels and Watermarks = Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments; Angels and Matermarks for harpsichord; Dream for piano solo – Brenda Tom, piano & harpsichord/ tentet/ Barbara Day Turner – Howard Hersh
ARNOLD ROSNER: Musique de Clavecin; Sonatine D’Amour; DANIEL PINKHAM: Partita for Harpsichord – Barbara Harbach, harpsichord – MSR Classics

Contemporary tonal harpsichord and piano works on two CDs.

Published on April 17, 2014

HOWARD HERSH: Angels and Watermarks = Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments; Angels and Matermarks for harpsichord; Dream for piano solo – Brenda Tom, piano & harpsichord/ tentet/ Barbara Day Turner – Howard Hersh</br>ARNOLD ROSNER: Musique de Clavecin; Sonatine D’Amour; DANIEL PINKHAM: Partita for Harpsichord – Barbara Harbach, harpsichord – MSR Classics

HOWARD HERSH: Angels and Watermarks = Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments; Angels and Watermarks for harpsichord; Dream for piano solo – Brenda Tom, piano & harpsichord/ tentet cond. by Barbara Day Turner – 2014 Howard Hersh [3/29/14] ****:

ARNOLD ROSNER: Musique de Clavecin Op. 61; Sonatine D’Amour Op. 83; DANIEL PINKHAM: Partita for Harpsichord (1964) – Barbara Harbach, harpsichord – MSR Classics MS 1443, 64:11 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Howard Hersh is a California contemporary composer. He composed all three of these works for keyboardist Brenda Tom. The Piano Concerto is dedicated to Benjamin Lyon and is in three movements. It is accompanied by string quartet plus double bass and woodwinds, and its first movement is the longest by far, with much development of the generally tonal themes.

The Angel and Watermark Suite was composed in 2004 and its title comes from a Henry Miller story in which he continually alters a painting until he discovers an angel watermark, waiting to be revealed. Hersh said it reflected his desire to let the harpsichord’s historical voice to shine thru his work. The five movements include a prelude, a study in perpetual motion, a lullaby, an homage to the toccata, and a postlude, which briefly recalls the opening movement.

TrackList:

1. Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments: Movement I
2. Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments: Movement II
3. Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments: Movement III
4. Angels and Watermarks, Suite for Harpsichord: I. Before (Angels)
5. Angels and Watermarks, Suite for Harpsichord: II. Flying Lessons
6. Angels and Watermarks, Suite for Harpsichord: III. Little Angel Dreams
7. Angels and Watermarks, Suite for Harpsichord: IV. Touch
8. Angels and Watermarks, Suite for Harpsichord: V. After (Watermarks)
9. Dream for Piano

Barbara Harbach has toured internationally as both a harpsichordist and organist. A body of work has been written for her and she has composed prolifically herself, including not only keyboard works but symphonies, operas and ballets. Composer Arnold Rosner (who recently passed away) wrote over 120 musical works during a 50-year period. Most are conservative and tonal, with minimalism used for decorative effects. He had a strangely idiosyncratic style, with such elements as the harmonically roaming polychoral influence of Henrich Schutz and the influence of Indian music. His Musique de Clavecin has five movements in a Baroque pattern, each inspired by a different woman he knew, including one titled “Les Suzannes” because several of his friends had married women named Susan.

Boston-based Daniel Pinkham, who died in 2006, studied with Walter Piston, Aaron Copland, Arthur Honegger and Samuel Barber. He studied harpsichord with Wanda Landowska and was a prolific composer, writing four symphonies, concertos, cantatas, oratorios, chamber operas, chamber music and 20 film scores. He had been Director of Music at Boston’s King’s Chapel. He wrote the Partita for Harpsichord while I was working at WBGH in Boston. It was supposed to be music for three half-hour films on modern art, which were never distributed. However, Pinkham also created the Partita, similar to those of J.S. Bach, with a series of ten movements of contrasting moods and technical devices. Barbara Harbach plays a large two-manual harpsichord patterned after a German Baroque instrument, in which the 16 ft. stop is used frequently in the Rosner piece.

TrackList:

1. Arnold Rosner: Musique de Clavecin – Rondeau: La Dame du Seigneur (Adagio serioso)
2. Arnold Rosner: Musique de Clavecin – Danse: La Walewska (Allegro non troppo)
3. Arnold Rosner: Musique de Clavecin – Fantaisie: La Celeste (Largo misterioso)
4. Arnold Rosner: Musique de Clavecin – Noel: Les Suzannes (Allegretto grazioso)
5. Arnold Rosner: Musique de Clavecin – Passacaille: La douleureuse (Adagio)
6. Arnold Rosner: Sonatine d Amour – Le Troubador
7. Arnold Rosner: Sonatine d Amour – La Dame
8. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Toccata,
9. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Andante and
10. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Fugue
11. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Canon by Contrary Motion and Augmentation
12. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Canon by Augmentation
13. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Canon at the Octave
14. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Interlude and Rondo
15. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Fantasia
16. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Scherzo and Trio
17. Daniel Pinkham: Partita for Harpsichord – Envoi 

—John Sunier




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