Fantaisie Fantasme

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Brahms,Cage,Janacek,Keren,Ligeti,Mozart,Schoenberg
LABELS: NAIVE
WORKS: Piano works by Bach, Keren, Brahms, Schoenberg, Ligeti, Janácek, Cage, Mozart
PERFORMER: David Greilsammer (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 5081

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I suppose this is what they call a concept album. David Greilsammer has assembled a succession of pieces by Bach, Schoenberg, Ligeti, Cage, Mozart and a specially-composed work by the young Israeli composer Jonathan Keren into a sequence that also disassembles most of them into component parts in a symmetrical structure.

Thus the sequence begins with Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and ends with its Fugue: the central point is Mozart’s C minor Fantasy, enclosed by two pieces from Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes, themselves enclosed by the two movements of Janácek’s Piano Sonata, and so on.

This nesting of composers and works, the sublime interpenetrating the grotesque, is for Greilsammer the essence of fantasy. Of course, you can play with your remote and reunite the two movements of the Janácek, the Chromatic Fantasy with its Fugue, make even Keren’s Fantaisie, mais 2 Fantastrophes back into whole, discrete works.

But here the concept of the ‘work’ is dissolved into that of the sequence: the disc wants you to play it in the imposed order of its tracklisting. And certainly the transitional moments, the pieces following one another without discernible break, are sometimes fascinating, like the way the end of Keren’s angular, jazzy First Fantastrophe melts with seeming utter naturalness and continuity into the beginning of Brahms’s Op. 116 Intermezzo, or the ending of the Mozart Fantasia into the clanging bell-sounds of Cage’s Sonata 12.

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Certainly one hears them afresh. Everything is nicely, thoughtfully played, and some tracks – the Janácek for one – are so beautifully interpreted one would be content to hear them in a less consciously eccentric context. Calum MacDonald