David Greilsammer

Baroque Conversations

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This Sony-label debut release by Israeli pianist David Greilsammer has much in common with his earlier recording Fantasie Fantasme, released on the Naxos label. In fact, here Greilsammer might be said to have refined the ideas on the earlier album. Both combine contemporary and mainstream repertory, and apparently Greilsammer has an inclination toward pretentious graphic design. But here the focus is tightened. Greilsammer constructs a sequence of four Baroque three-movement "pieces," each consisting of three compositions. Of these sets of three, the outer two are Baroque works, while the center is a contemporary piece, commissioned in two cases by Greilsammer himself from contemporary Israeli composers. Greilsammer balances these works cleverly: the structure of the sets of three is not fast-slow-fast, but not simply random, either; the pieces instead are linked by motive and mood, with the modern work emerging as just a slight shift from what precedes it, and as a logical introduction to the finale. One might make several objections along the way: the Handel Suite for keyboard in D minor, HWV 447, with its four movements, disturbs the plan for no very good reason, and Greilsammer's readings of the Baroque pieces, especially the opening Gavotte et Six Doubles of Rameau, are a bit too dreamy, a bit too obviously bent to the requirements of the project. Still, there's no denying that Greilsammer has come closer than most other performers to the grail of integrating contemporary music into a mainstream concert program, and that he has done it in a very inventive way. The combination of a Frescobaldi toccata and the Wiegenmusik of German-born composer Helmut Lachenmann, each with little figures gracefully spinning off an underlying rhythm, is especially effective. Recommended for listeners of a speculative frame of mind.

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