ALBUM TITLE: Goehr
PERFORMER: Huw Watkins (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WER 6692 2
Here’s a perfect introduction to the richly stocked and subtle musical mind of Alexander Goehr. Now in his mid-70s, Goehr has spent his life being out of fashion. His aim has been to rediscover or reinvent the ‘common tongue’ of music, but, as this CD makes clear, this doesn’t mean a facile return to Romantic tonality.
His is a complicated dialogue with the past, in which Baroque counterpoint, classical forms and post-Schoenbergian harmony all co-exist. This set of 15 piano pieces is a particularly ripe expression of Goehr’s gift, and unlike some of his more ambitious pieces, they have a surprisingly relaxed, almost improvisational ease.
The first nine form a kind of Baroque suite, yet Goehr somehow manages not to sound neo-classical. The later pieces are more expansive, and include luxuriantly ornamented paraphrases of a Handel air, and the famous Mozart Adagio in B minor.
Pianist Huw Watkins plays them with exactly the right combination of forthright, etched clarity and musing, tender grace. Ivan Hewett