Alexander Soares: Notations & Sketches
Although most of these pieces have been collated on various anthologies of French piano music, few of them can match this new release in its balanced conception or consistency of execution. This is evident from the opening bars of Dutilleux’s Sonata (1948), its influences of Debussy and Ravel countered by those of Bartók and Prokofiev, most notably in the final ‘Choral et variations’, whose sinewy progress to a resolute apotheosis is powerfully rendered. The three Préludes (1973-88) afford a compendium of Dutilleux’s compositional techniques, with ‘Le jeu des contraires’ a competition test-piece as fastidious as it is resourceful; whereas Mini-prélude en éventail (1987) is his capricious ‘hommage’ to a century of French pianism.
The Boulez pieces neatly frame the extent of his composing. Notations (1945) has become something of a party-piece since its belated publication, these 12 miniatures encompassing a range of expression that Soares conveys without losing sight of their cohesion as a sequence. Une page d’éphéméride (2005) is a ‘young person’s guide’ to modern piano-writing whose alternation of stark resonance and incisive passagework is Boulezian to the core. As to the Messiaen offerings, the recently discovered La fauvette passerinette (1961) may have been intended for a putative second Catalogue d’oiseaux, though the virtuosity of its evocation is closer to the multifaceted imagery of La fauvette des jardins almost a decade on, while the Prélude (1964) is a tensile feuille d’album which ought to become established as an encore.
It rounds off the recital in captivating fashion. All these pieces are available elsewhere – the Dutilleux and Boulez in respective surveys by Robert Levin (ECM, 8/10) and Marc Ponthus (Bridge, 4/16), and the Messiaen within an engrossing miscellany from Peter Hill (Delphian, 12/14) – but Soares has their measure in abundance, resulting in what could hardly be a more auspicious debut album.