Castiglioni, Grieg, Kurt‡g, Busoni, Nancarrow, Stravinsky, etc

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COMPOSERS: Busoni,Castiglioni,etc,Grieg,Kurtag,Nancarrow,Stravinsky
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: 20th-Century Piano
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Thomas Adès (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57051 2
‘To offer a world in a grain of sound’ is how Paul Griffiths in his notes for this collection describes the ideal of the piano miniature. In the perspective of Adès’s recital, it might equally be described as creating a point of fusion: styles, moods, the magma of music, are compressed into a brief fraction of human time to yield a starburst of energy.

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Much that is already known about Adès confirms his intimate relation with the miniature, though his own compositions are far from being on the small side. A sense of superior wit – of disparate things brought pleasingly within an intellectual or sentimental orbit – underlies much of his work, and is equally the source of satisfaction obtained from a pristine miniaturist like Kurtág, whom Adès greatly admires. Doubtless his Hommage à Nancy Sinatra also carries sympathetic echoes to the composer of Powder Her Face. But the contrast of canons by the elusive Alexey Stanchinsky and Conlon Nancarrow proves no less seductive to the intelligent ear.

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Other pieces – all are lovingly played – inhabit realms of childhood or simplicity. Castiglioni’s Come lo passo l’estate is a real trouvaille, while Grieg’s Norwegian Peasant Dances masterfully combine the pure and complex. Nicholas Williams