Ignis Fatuus: Piano Music of Adolphus Hailstork

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Among the countless living American composers whose works are underperformed, under-recorded, and, in his case, under-published is Adolphus Hailstork. Although he studied with the likes of David Diamond and Nadia Boulanger, his music is decidedly not avant-garde. Rather, his compositions draw from an eclectic range of influences like Barber, Copland, and Ravel, as well as drawing on jazz idioms and African-American spirituals. While not each of these are heard in each piece, the combination of inspiration and Hailstork's own natural lyricism yield music that is at once accessible and enthralling to listeners. This Albany Records album showcases Hailstork's piano works (both solo piano and two piano). Performed by the Invencia Piano Duo (Andrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn), Hailstork's music is given the careful attention and tender performance it deserves. Both Kasparov and Lutsyshyn (who alternate throughout the album) demonstrate not only abundant technique, but keen musical insight and a thorough knowledge of Hailstork's influences and how they couple with his own musical language. The final work on the program, the Sonata for Two Pianos of 1987, finds the two individual pianists joining together in a tight, seamless chamber music collaboration. Both instruments produce a clear, ringing tone and balance between them is fantastic. For listeners not already familiar with Hailstork and feel like expanding their musical horizons, this album of his piano works is a thoroughly enjoyable place to start.

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