Alexandre Tansman: 24 Intermezzi; Petite Suiteby Eliane Reyes
Alexandre Tansman was a mid-20th century composer who stuck to his own personal composition style -- essentially a neo-classical one -- and remained a generally admired talent during his life even when other composers, including those he respected, such as Stravinsky, turned increasingly to serialism. After his death, however, his reputation faded, and his music is often neglected except for several works for guitar. On this 2010 album, Eliane Reyes gives listeners a chance to hear his piano miniatures, a form in which he worked his entire career. The bulk of the recording is devoted to his cycle of "24 Intermezzi," set out in four books. The one characteristic that is shared by nearly all the intermezzi is Tansman's use of tonality and harmony, wandering between keys and modes in a way that is very reminiscent of Scriabin's music. The Intermezzo No. 21, which Tansman reused in a piano sonata, actually also shares other traits with Scriabin's "Vers la flamme." Many of the intermezzi are melancholy and/or introspective, played with gracefulness and suppleness by Reyes. There are others that are spikier or, in the instance of No. 18, downright aggressive. The way Reyes switches moods so easily between the gentler No. 17 and No. 18 is impressive. Tansman seems also to have had a playful side. No. 6 is in sharp counterpoint and appropriately finishes with a Bach-ian cadence. The ones marked scherzando or capriccioso are just that: joking or whimsical. The "Petite Suite" is the earliest set of miniatures Tansman wrote, dating 20 years earlier than the "Intermezzi," and like the larger set, each selection represents a single mood, but these are a little more stable in tonality. The final piece that Reyes presents is the 1940 "Valse-Impromptu," something of a miniature cousin to Ravel's "La valse." Reyes' skillful presentation of Tansman's music should be well-appreciated, and those who enjoy the piano music of Stravinsky, Scriabin, and Ravel are likely to find something pleasing in these pieces as well.
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