Pianist Andrew Rangell, in his own notes to this fine release of folk-influenced Eastern European piano music of the early 20th century, distinguishes three modes of interaction with folk music available to composers of the time: they could present it straightforwardly, adorned, or indirectly, not explicitly quoted but present nonetheless. The music here can be placed loosely in those categories: Bartók in the first (although the Piano Sonata, Sz 80, falls more readily into the second); Kodály, where folk tunes are filtered through an Impressionist haze, in the second; and Janácek in the third. But the interesting thing is that all three tendencies are present to a greater or lesser extent in all the music, and Rangell's specific program is ideally suited to the attuning of the ear to this music and to the way these composers were listening to each other. Janácek is not always considered a direct ancestor of Bartók, but hearing this music makes the relationship clear. Even listeners unconvinced by Rangell's brilliant but often idiosyncratic ideas tend to concede his genius in music from the decades around 1900, and he is especially effective here as folkish ideas float in and out of a sort of psychological miasma in the Janácek. In Bartók's more formal presentation he is quite precise. There's a lot here to keep you listening and listening again, and this constitutes a triumph for the very strong series of piano albums issued by manufacturer Steinway & Sons.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|In the Mists|
|Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20 Sz. 74|
|Romanian Folkdances, Sz. 56|
|Seven Pieces for Piano, Op. 11|
|Sonata for Piano, Sz. 80|