Peter Jacobs

Chaminade: Piano Music 2

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Peter Jacobs' effort to revive the solo piano works of Cécile Chaminade continues in this second volume of her music. As with the first volume, his selections seem to come somewhat randomly from her entire catalog, regardless of time it was written, type of work it is, or whether it's part of a larger suite or collection. In other words, there's a certain amount of whimsy in his programming, which, in a way, reflects the music here. There is a great variety in the character of the pieces, and no matter what the mood of it, it always seems to be filled with a luminescent quality, particularly in the way Jacobs performs it. No matter whether the music is the elfen Passacaille, Op. 130, with its more courtly middle section, or the tickling Divertissement, Op. 105, or the more ambitious Étude Symphonique, Op. 28, Jacobs plays with elegance and charm. Even in Au pays dévasté, a sorrowful picture of a wasteland, he finds grace in the music. He brings out the rippling loveliness of the music that is so familiar in Chopin's music. However, Chaminade is much more of a wide-ranging miniaturist than Chopin, judging from these pieces. Her music hovers between that rich Romanticism and the leaner lines of Fauré and Debussy's piano music. In most cases, the pieces are clearer in texture and emotion than most Romantics, although the writing tends to get more involved at times when the emotion is most concentrated, such as in the Nocturne, Op. 165, or Tristesse, Op. 104. However, with simple melodic and harmonic lines, she is able to capture the essence of an emotion or picture. Jacobs proves again that a skillful performer with sensitivity can elevate Chaminade's music to a much higher level than the amateur salon music it is often dismissed as.

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