Jimmy Briere

Corigliano, Rota, Korngold: Piano Music

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This novel recital by French Canadian pianist Jimmy Brière bills itself as presenting music by "three Oscar-winning composers." The booklet begins with an account of the watershed moment in 1895 when the Lumière brothers demonstrated their cinématographe, and the idea of exploring how film music and abstract music might interact in the oeuvre of a composer is a good one. It doesn't quite come together here, but there's no denying that Brière has put together a convincing program made up of pretty obscure pieces; the most familiar is actually the most contemporary, John Corigliano's tightly woven but crowd-pleasing Etude Fantasy of 1976. That work and Erich Korngold's Piano Sonata No. 2 in E major, Op. 2, which opens the program, were both written well before their respective composers turned to film music, and well before then in Korngold's case. There's not really anything cinematic going on in the Korngold sonata, which he composed at the age of 12, but it's an enjoyable effort by a young man who grasped the possibilities of the Straussian language precociously, and clearly understood the piano. The influence of film music is, however, quite apparent in the 15 Preludes of Nino Rota, composed in 1964. There are certainly pieces here that sound as though they could accompany scenes in Fellini (or Francis Ford Coppola); try especially the nostalgic No. 13. But they are set against works in a more contemporary idiom, and the dialogue is an interesting one that later works by Korngold and Corigliano might have helped to further. All the music, however, succeeds on its own rather challenging terms, and the music is nicely recorded.

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