- Rag-caprices (3), for piano, Op. 78: Romance
- Tango from Exiles' Cafe, for solo piano
- Preludes (6) for piano: No. 6
- Preludes (6) for piano: No. 3
- Preludes (6) for piano: No. 2
- Preludes (6) for piano: No. 1
- Africa (also known as: Darker Africa; Darkest Africa), suite in 3 movements for orchestra (or piano): 2. Land of Romance
- Sonata for piano No. 2 in E major, Op. 2: 1. Moderato
- Pieces (3) for piano, TN ii/19: Prelude in D minor, Op. posth.
- Tango, for piano
- Dumka for piano No. 3, H. 285bis
- Dumka for piano No. 2, H. 250
- Pieces (3) for piano, Op. 59: Pastoral Sonatina in C major
- Mazurka for piano No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 6/1, CT. 51
- Hungarian Folksongs from Csík (3) (Három Csík megyei népdal), for piano, Sz. 35a, BB 45b
- Mazurka for piano No. 49 in F minor, Op. 68/4, CT. 99
- Work(s): Fragments, Op. posth.
Exiles' Caféby Lara Downes
American pianist Lara Downes' Exiles' Café is "a place both real and metaphorical, a place where individuals gather from all over the world to find a home away from home. It is filled with dream-chasers: travelers, nomads, explorers, gypsies, and vagabonds -- as well as refugees thrust on journeys undesired." To put together an entire program under this rubric seems a tall order at first, yet exile was a theme running all through the music of the 19th and 20th centuries, and rare were composers who ended up where they started. The charm of Downes' program lies in how she brings together music by such a variety of composers yet finds a very specific elegiac yet somehow adventurous mood in all of it. The notes dance around the fact that not all these composers had been exiled by the time the works involved were written. Bartók's limpid "Hungarian Folksongs from the Csik District, Sz 35a," were composed in 1907, years before the composer left Hungary. Yet they might easily have been performed by Bartók upon arriving in the U.S., and the quiet, delicately sad tone of the whole. It is actually surprising to see how many composers fit in, given that the period is generally taken to be one of storming artistic barricades. It's not often that you would find Rachmaninov, Paul Bowles, Bohuslav Martinu, and William Grant Still on the same program, but here they happily coexist. Yet they don't sound the same, which is what gives this collection of 21 pieces on a single emotion its variety. Downes keeps very tight control over the material, rarely letting the music rise above moderate volume or the emotional temperature above melancholy. The result is that this exiles' café really comes alive with the sounds of 100 years ago, and the sadness of upheaval. A wonderful release from the Steinway & Sons label, which has taken the attitude that one way to perpetuate piano-playing is to offer recordings that imaginatively explore piano repertory.
- Release Date:
- Steinway & Sons
Performance CreditsLara Downes Primary Artist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Wonderful collection of short pieces for those familiar with needing a home away from home… This CD consists of a series of short piano pieces written by composers that left their homeland, and no doubt felt the pain of not being able to go “home”. The concept is that of a café, where such individuals might gather to feel together in their isolation. As such, the pieces tend to have a certain wistfulness and character that is both pleasing and somehow comforting. A number of the works on this disc were particularly striking. The first three by Bela Bartok are short Hungarian Folksongs, and they are just delightful. Music of Chopin is, of course, featured given the theme of this recording, and Ms. Downes shows that her Chopin is sensitive and that her skills are up to the task of bringing these works to life. The Mazurka in F-sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 1, is very satisfying. Also very interesting is Prokofiev’s Sonatina Pastorale (Op. 59, No. 3). Stravinsky’s Tango in D minor was a very pleasing musical discovery for me, and Weill’s “Lost in the Stars” is a lovely jazz-feeling work that anyone who has ever sat in a bar while on travel wishing they were home can relate to. And the Korngold Moderato from Sonata No. 2, Op. 2 is amazing. Other works on the disc are from Rachmaninov, Bowles, and Sahl, who’s “Tango from the Exiles’ Café” was the basis for the idea behind this collection. I was unfamiliar with Ms. Downes prior to acquiring this recording, and I will definitely have to keep an eye out for other works. I enjoyed this very much, and definitely recommend it for those looking for sensitive, introspective feeling works. Strongly recommended.