us financially by purchasing this disc from:
Michael Landrum (piano)
rec. 9, 10 and 12 March, 2000, Hale Auditorium, Roberts Wesleyan
College, Rochester, New York, USA
Full track list after review
DORIAN SONO LUMINUS DSL-92158 [70:39 + 63:18]
In early 2012 I had the pleasure of reviewing a CD which was
a sort of ‘mazurkapedia’: a historical catalog of
mazurkas from just before Chopin to the present day (review).
Now here comes American pianist Michael Landrum with a similar
project, encompassing thirty-two nocturnes by thirty-one composers;
Chopin, naturally, appears twice. What’s most fascinating
about this double recital is the sources of some of the delights:
a four-minute nocturne begins as a charmer with the barest of
sweet melodies but builds to a formidable climax, and then you
look at the track-listing and discover it was composed by Respighi.
A straightforward homage to Chopin comes from Manuel de Falla.
One of the finest works in the entire set, a melancholy work
introduced by and interwoven with a sequence of repeating notes
and chords, is from Sibelius. Mily Balakirev’s enormous
second nocturne has a central passage which briefly turns into
a triumphal march.
I could go on but you get the idea. Michael Landrum has turned
up some very well-chosen gems. The Borodin nocturne is one of
my favorite piano pieces; Samuel Barber’s is an ear-catching
mixture of John Field’s time with Barber’s own.
Landrum’s his ear for good music has led him down back-alleys
few know exist. Who, for example is Alec
Rowley? The booklet only gives birth and death years, although
there is a Piano Concerto on Naxos.
Cyril Scott and Francis Poulenc provide unexpected highlights,
Scott’s work veering into rather jazzy territory, while
I found the Alkan piece a trifle too sugary in the central pages.
Ralph Vaughan Williams makes a precious ninety-second appearance.
Michael Landrum is obviously devoted to this repertoire, and
to finding more of it, but I can’t help wondering if this
disc couldn’t have been even better. It was recorded in
2000, and apparently sat in someone’s vault until Sono
Luminus finally decided to release it in 2012. In the dozen
intervening years, Landrum’s interpretations probably
matured and grew even more engrossing; his Chopin tracks are
good but a little square or mechanical compared to someone like
Ivan Moravec or Claudio Arrau. On the other hand, his Borodin
nocturne is my new reference, and he is not in the least bit
exhausted by the humongous Scriabin nocturne for left hand alone.
In the least-known works Landrum’s care shows at all times.
This recital adds up to more than the sum of its parts, which
is saying something, because it has a lot of parts. There’s
something very enlightening about having Balakirev, Copland,
Debussy, Menotti, Tchaikovsky and de Falla all on the same program.
Although the booklet notes are too technical for me - and do
not go through the program in order! - I love hearing the ways
that these thirty-one composers all contributed to the world
of the nocturne. When you’ve gone through to the end,
to the tiny gems by Copland and Alexandre Tansman, circle back
to the very first track, by John Field. It’s so simple,
and yet so much flowed from it. It’s rare to listen to
a piano recital and feel like you’ve learned something
CD 1 John FIELD(1782-1837)
Nocturne No 4 in A[5:21] Frédéric CHOPIN(1810-1849)
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op 27 No 1 [5:24] Ottorino RESPIGHI(1879-1936)
Notturno[4:25] Alexander SCRIABIN(1872-1915)
Nocturne for the left hand, Op 9 [5:56] Gabriel FAURÉ(1845-1924)
Nocturne in A flat, Op 33 No 3 [4:38] Jean FRANÇAIX(1912-1997)
Nocturne [3:21] Jean SIBELIUS(1865-1957)
Nocturne in E minor, Op 24 No 8[3:36] Georges BIZET(1838-1875)
Nocturne in D major [4:02] Mily BALAKIREV(1837-1910)
Nocturne No 2 in D minor [7:58] Charles-Valentin ALKAN(1831-1888)
Premier Nocturne Op 22 [6:09] Erik SATIE(1866-1925)
Premier Nocturne[2:49] Francis POULENC(1899-1963)
Nocturne No 1 in C [3:32] Cyril SCOTT(1879-1970)
Notturno Op 54 No 5 [3:20] Edvard GRIEG(1843-1907)
Notturno Op 54 No 4 [4:11] Sergei RACHMANINOFF(1873-1943)
Nocturne in A minor, Op 10 No 1 [4:46] Alexandre TANSMAN(1897-1986)
Nocturne, from Cinq Impressions [1:18] CD 2 Frédéric CHOPIN
Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op 9 No 1[5:49] Claude DEBUSSY(1862-1918)
Nocturne in D-flat major[6:28] Clara SCHUMANN(1819-1896)
Notturno Op 6 No 2 [5:21] Alec ROWLEY(1892-1958)
Nocturne No 5 in F[3:21] Manuel de FALLA(1876-1946)
Nocturne in F minor [3:58] Franz LISZT(1811-1886)
Nocturne No 3 in A flat, S. 541 [4:40] Samuel BARBER(1910-1981)
Nocturne, Op 33 [3:27] Alexander TCHEREPNIN(1899-1977)
Nocturne in G-sharp minor, Op 2 No 1[4:06] Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY(1840-1893)
Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op 19 No 4 [3:19] Norman DELLO JOIO(1913-2008)
Nocturne in E [3:02] Alexander BORODIN(1833-1887)
Nocturne from Petite Suite [2:55] Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES(1884-1920)
Notturno in A-flat, Op 6 No 2[6:57] Fanny MENDELSSOHN-HENSEL(1805-1847)
Notturno in G minor [5:00] Gian-Carlo MENOTTI(1911-2007)
Notturno from Poemetti [1:39] Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS(1872-1958)
Nocturne, from A Little Piano Book [1:31] Aaron COPLAND(1900-1990)
Midsummer Nocturne [1:50]
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