David Greilsammer has form for putting together sequences of apparently unrelated short pieces to make a concept album. It’s a dangerous game: if you don’t go along with his inevitably individual choices, the result can seem like a meal consisting entirely of hors d’oeuvres, without ever reaching the main course. Or, as we have here, a selection of sandwiches where two pieces by one composer frame a third from a different era. Sometimes they work, sometimes they jar, which may be the effect Greilsammer wants.
The first sandwich of Janáček and Lully immediately highlights that discontinuity, and it doesn’t help that, in the opening ‘The owl has not flown away’, the performance often lacks clarity and direction. In fact, it’s a good indication of Greilsammer’s strengths and weaknesses as a pianist, with detail not always well defined in inner parts, and a tendency for louder passages to become hectoring. He’s more sensitive in terms of tone and colour in quieter music, and in sparser or more spiky textures. Which means that the piece from Crumb’s Makrokosmos is effective, although its position between two Beethoven Bagatelles is disconcerting. And the pieces by Ofer Pelz, written especially for this album, with a blatant Janáček quote in the second, show him at his best.
At the centre of the disc is Granados’s El amor y la muerte, where Spanish warmth never really emerges, but, conversely, the Satie Pièce froides which follows isn’t cold enough. I’m afraid that I wasn’t drawn into Greilsammer’s dreamworld.