Music and Vision homepage


<<  -- 2 --  John Bell Young    Discreet pleasures


Best known for his operas, vocal and incidental music, Hahn penned Le Rossignol éperdu as a cycle of 53 piano pieces. Each is inspired by a poem by Flaubert, Molière, Voltaire, Baudelaire, Hugo, Goethe, Musset or Verlaine. In faraway Russia, Scriabin had already laid claim to the musical poème, a miniature musical genre that appealed to the symbolist sensibility of the day. Its principal aesthetic capital was the discreet but succinct evocation of a particular mood or ephemeral idea. In France Chausson, Debussy, and Ravel had also exploited the peculiar challenges of this idiosyncratic form which, though not uniformly assigned the moniker poème, appropriated something of the syntactic dimensions of its literary counterpart.

In these ever so epigrammatic works, Hahn's compositional sensibility, small scale and intimate, is a hybrid of sorts. His compositional vocabulary brings to mind Richard Strauss for its textural transparency and darting rhythms; Mompou for its air of faded decadence; and also Griffes and Fauré, for its quiescent and migratory harmonies. It also avails itself of the harmonic language and formal conventions favored by the symbolist composers of the time; whole tone scales, tritones, French sixths and a kind of heightened symmetry combine to inform its tenuous, breathy ambiguity. To these brief, wistful and often nostalgic works Earl Wild, now 86, brings the kind of abundant detail and extraordinary pianistic finesse that can only be the envy of his colleagues. Indeed, in the household of repertoire alone, Mr Wild demonstrates admirable savvy light years ahead of that of pianists less than half his age. Willing to take a risk on the unknown, he is a musical archaeologist willing to explore worthwhile but unjustly neglected works rather than bring forth yet another recording of the Chopin preludes.

Continue >>

Copyright © 16 January 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA






 << Music & Vision home      Recent reviews       Villa Lobos >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.