Piano works by Gulda, Kapustin, Weissenberg and Antheil

COMPOSERS: Kapustin,Piano works by Gulda,Weissenberg and Antheil
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: In a state of Jazz
WORKS: Piano works
PERFORMER: Marc-André Hamelin
If you’ve heard Hamelin’s earlier CD of Kapustin, you’ll know what to expect: music in a jazz-inflected idiom, but completely devoid of improvisation. Hamelin’s amazing technique and clarity of sound means that the music sounds as spontaneous as it can, though there’s still a lingering doubt that it’s all just a bit too knowing and clever. And, unlike Gershwin in his written-out preludes, Kasputin doesn’t write any really memorable tunes. Neither does Alexis Weissenberg, but he isn’t trying to. The Sonata in a state of jazz looks at tango, charleston, blues and samba quite obliquely, and the rhythms and harmonies of jazz are reflected in a musical distorting mirror. His arrangements of six Charles Trenet songs have flashes of similar harmonic adventurousness, but are mostly more conventional. Gulda is represented here by some excerpts from Play piano play – jazz exercises for the aspiring pianist – and the Prelude and Fugue, the only piece where there is scope for improvisation, and where Hamelin is less flamboyant than Gulda himself. Pride of place goes to Antheil’s mad, 90-second Jazz Sonata: enormous fun.