VAN DIEREN Complete Music For Piano Solo (Christopher Guild)

Record and Artist Details



Label: Piano Classics

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 102



Catalogue Number: PCL10241

PCL10241, VAN DIEREN Complete Music For Piano Solo (Christopher Guild)


Composition Artist Credit
(6) Sketches Bernard Van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano
Tema con variazione Bernard Van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano
(3) Studies Bernard Van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano
Netherlands Melodies Bernard Van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano
Piccolo pralinudettino fridato Bernard Van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano
Ballad de Villon Bernard van Dieren, Composer
Christopher Guild, Piano

That Bernard van Dieren (1887-1936) did not come into his own during the CD era is a little surprising. His most famous if rarely played piece, the Chinese Symphony, finally gained a worthy studio account (Lyrita, 1/17) and Christopher Guild has now released the complete music for solo piano. In its fusion of arresting formal complexity with underlying expressive poise, this offers an effective overview of his output and Guild, having issued Ronald Stevenson’s fine transcription of the Fifth Quartet (Toccata Classics), was ideally placed to do this recording.

All of van Dieren’s piano works were recorded back in the 1980s by Eiluned Davies on two cassettes (11/83 and 9/86, currently accessible via YouTube). These could hardly be said to lack authority but Guild’s frequently demonstrative approach makes more of the music’s emotional contrasts, not least the Six Sketches (1911), with their uncanny synthesis of facets drawn from Busoni and Schoenberg. With Guild there is never any doubting their cohesion as a sequence nor, in the Toccata (1912), of that teasingly improvisatory interplay between dynamism and stasis.

Busoni remained van Dieren’s touchstone as he moved away from relative atonality towards a renewed and variegated tonal language. An important marker was the Netherlands Melodies (1917), with its paraphrases on 13 tunes (‘5a’ recorded here for the first time) of an engaging playfulness and pathos. The Three Studies (c1925) offers a bravura take on those translucent harmonies and intricate textures of the composer’s maturity, then Tema con variazione (1927) adds a bluesy insouciance as it reinterprets its modest source. Piccolo Pralinudettino Fridato (1934) is a touching birthday gift from the ailing composer to his wife, pianist Frida Kindler.

In lieu of those Stevenson transcriptions, Guild has included Peter Warlock’s arrangement of the François Villon ballad ‘Lady of Heaven, Earthly Regent’ (1917), eloquently declaimed in late-medieval French by James Reid-Baxter. His Steinway D has almost fearsome clarity, and there are informative annotations by Alastair Chisholm. Enthusiastically recommended, in the hope that van Dieren’s six string quartets might now be recorded with comparable authority.

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