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The Future is Female, Vol. 1 – In Nature

Sarah Cahill (piano) (FHR)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Future is Female – Vol. 1  In Nature
Works by Bon, Carreño, Gribbin, Jambor, Kaprálová, Kashperova, Fanny Mendelssohn, FC Dillon, Beglarian and MD Watkins
Sarah Cahill (piano)
First Hand FHR131   71:40 mins

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The feminist slogan ‘The Future is Female’ is shown on the front cover, held up on a protest sign. And as this recording shows, the past was female too, it’s just that women are often written out of it. Here, then, is an alternative history of solo piano music – and one that’s delivered with real conviction by pianist Sarah Cahill.

Canonical chronologies might take us from JS Bach to Thomas Adès. Cahill begins with Anna Bon (her B minor Sonata of 1757) and ends with Mary D Watkins (Summer Days of 2020), taking us on journey that feels like an ever-growing wave, each piece somehow building on the last yet always taking us into new territory. The first in a three-
volume series, this disc takes its theme as nature, whether that’s Teresa Carreno’s evocative Un rêve en mer or Fannie Charles Dillon’s chirruping Birds at Dawn, but it remains a loose inspiration rather than a straitjacket.

The programme really hits its stride with two of Vítězslava Kaprálová’s April Preludes, harmonically rich and adventurous pieces written by the Czech composer in 1937. They have been recorded a handful of times already but deserve every outing. And Cahill really digs into the fascinating premiere that follows: Agi Jambor’s Piano Sonata. Jambor was a Hungarian child prodigy – who reputedly played Mozart before she spoke – and in 1949, having found refuge in the United States from
the Nazis, she composed this striking piece dedicated to the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It’s worth hearing the disc for this sonata alone, but Eve Beglarian’s poetic manifesto Fireside (2001) and Deirde Gribbin’s searching Unseen (2017) are two other highlights.

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Rebecca Franks