With a program containing works spanning more than three centuries, Gregory Partain demonstrates his ability to shift rapidly and deftly between greatly differing compositional styles. This album, Vol. 2 of his debut solo collection, begins with three Rachmaninov preludes. Of particular note is Partain's exemplary skills in voicing the dense compositions. The melody clearly rises above the harmony and accompanimental figures almost as if it was being sung. Inner voices are remarkably well-articulated and there's no trace of over-pedaling. A rapid shift in style brings us next to three sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti. Partain effortlessly shifts from the lush, emotive Rachmaninov to the crisp, energetic, and elegant figures of the Baroque. The A major Sonata contains passages of repeated notes that are executed with almost impossible speed and precision. Mixing something new with the standard repertoire, Partain performs the Toccata: Act of War, composed for him by Larry Barnes. The rhythmic drive and intensity leave listeners wishing the piece were longer than its mere six minutes, or that Partain included more works by his colleague. The album culminates with a very satisfying rendition of Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata. All of his aforementioned attributes come together here -- brilliant clarity, crisp articulation, and a magnificent sense of pacing. The only possible flaw in the Beethoven would be the actual recorded sound, which makes the mid-bass seem somewhat weak. Apart from that, this album is an excellent introduction to an artist whose career should be watched with anticipation.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor ("Appassionata"), Op. 57|