Orlando Bass: Piano Modern Recital, Vol 2
This CD is hardly ‘modern’ (its repertoire goes back to 1909) and nor is it a ‘recital’ in the sense of a viable concert programme. But for lovers of rare piano music, it should certainly be enticing. The series of which it forms part showcases laureates from the Paris based Competition-Festival Modern Piano Repertoire, founded by the French-Ukrainian composer Dmitri Tchesnokov.
Here Franco-British harpsichordist-pianist-composer Orlando Bass explores the Prelude and Fugue genre and variants thereof. His useful accompanying essay explains the calculations and concepts behind his own music but unfortunately his piece fails to convey much individual personality. Similarly, complexity is not always at the service of artistic qualities in Michel Merlet’s Passacaille et Fugue, composed for the 1986 Marguerite Long competition, which receives its first recording here, as does Ukrainian Yuriy Shamo’s jazz-inflected Third Piano Sonata.
Taneyev’s Prelude and Fugue has far more character and Bass demonstrates fine control of long phrases in the languorous Prelude; but even here, as in Szymanowski’s sensuous Prelude and soul-searching Fugue, there is a lack of colour and tonal depth. A stern soundscape dominates in Amy Beach’s Lisztian Prelude and Fugue and in Dimitri Mitropoulos’s 1924 Passacaille, Intermezzo et Fugue, where Bass’s technical accomplishment is arguably heard to its best advantage. Schnittke’s 12-note rows get rather lost in the echoing environment of Paris’s Temple St Marcel (go to Boris Berman on Chandos for a more lucid account), and the excessive resonance, disturbed further by pedal and damper noise, makes the whole disc an uneasy listening experience.