Caseila/Grainger/Pabst

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Caseila/Grainger/Pabst
LABELS: Timbre
WORKS: A la maniere de…
PERFORMER: Sandra Ivo Bartoli (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DMHCD 6 (distr. Koch)
This disc is something of a curiosity – a mixture of parody, tribute and the free arrangement of other people’s music. Casella (1883-1947) developed into a neo-classicist in the Stravinsky mould, but these gentle caricatures of other composers date from earlier in his career. They appear here in chronological order and improve in effectiveness as his own musicianship matures.

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Grainger’s arrangements are skilfully crafted, pianistic and, like most of his music, not easy to play. The ‘Ramble’ on Der Rosenkavalier would be impossible without the third (sostenuto) pedal. Bartoli’s account is colourful, and he achieves a clear balance between melody and accompaniment, wherever in the texture the melody line appears. Listen to the way he separates ‘piano’ from ‘orchestra’ in Grainger’s purely solo arrangement of the opening of the Tchaikovsky B flat minor Concerto -even when he’s playing both roles at the same time.

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Pabst was a pupil of Liszt, and he clearly picked up his master’s predilection for the operatic fantasy – the only form in which most people would have been likely to heat the great j arias of the day. Bartoli is perhaps too emphatic in his playing of the Eugene Onegin Paraphrase, but he makes it at once lively and thoroughly enjoyable. Wadham Sutton