Lorenzo Meo

Boundaries: Music by Jaan Rääts

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Jaan Rääts, born in 1932, offers yet further evidence that Estonia must be one of the most compositionally fertile places in the world, turning out a disproportionate number of important or at least intriguing composers for such a small country, including Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Toivo Tulev, Helena Tulve, and Lepo Sumera. Rääts' harmonic and gestural language in the two works for two pianos recorded here is related to American minimalism and post-minimalism, essentially but not rigidly tonal, with the use of repeated patterns. The music is immediately appealing, accessible without being simplistic. Marginalia lasts just half an hour, but includes 24 pieces, one in each of the major and minor keys. The movements are like bagatelles, each well developed and with a strongly distinctive character, and their brevity keeps them from wearing out their welcome. Rääts' Sonata for two pianos is idiomatically similar to Marginalia, but uses a more complex tonal scheme, and the form gives the material the time to unfold and develop at a more leisurely pace. Italian pianist Lorenzo Meo plays both piano parts. His performance is notable for its energy and loose-limbed athleticism. The sound is clean and vibrant with a good sense of presence. The album should appeal to fans of the late minimalist sound of composers like John Adams and Louis Andriessen.

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