Miceal O'Rourke

John Field: Piano Works

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Listeners who already know and love Irish pianist Míceál O'Rourke's landmark recordings of John Field's 18 Nocturnes or his exceptional recordings of his six piano concertos will have to hear this two-disc set of O'Rourke's recordings of the same composer's four sonatas plus 17 other works for the piano. The same level of compositional skill is evident in all Field's work no matter what the genre. The Irish composer clearly knew how to make a piano sing, and the sonatas on the first disc prove as structurally cogent and convincing as the concerto. The same cannot be said of the lighter pieces on the second disc, but since his Irish Dance, Chanson russe variée, and Sehnsuchtswalzer were hardly intended to scale the same musical or emotional heights as the sonatas, this cannot be held against them. As in his other Field recordings, O'Rourke is a fervent believer in the music. With agile fingers, a firm touch, and light use of the sustain pedal, O'Rourke is well equipped for the works' technical requirements, and with his lyrical phrasing and blended tone, he is likewise well prepared for the music's expressive demands. Though those who don't already know Field's masterful Nocturnes are urged to seek them out first, preferably in O'Rourke's performances, those who do will certainly enjoy these discs. Recorded for Chandos by producer Tim Oldham in 1989 and 1991, the digital sound here is close, warm, and intimate.

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