Tamara Anna Cislowska

The Persian Hours

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The Persian Hours delivers exactly what it promises: "Mystical Piano Music." It's perfect for those looking for something new and out of the ordinary to accompany their meditating. The pieces selected by Tamara Anna Cislowska are far from the usual found on discs of quiet Classical music. Yes, Satie's Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes are frequently on those other discs, but here they are mixed with Alan Hovhaness, Luciano Berio, Arvo Pärt, Joseph Schwanter, Henryk Górecki, David Chesworth, and excerpts from Charles Koechlin's The Persian Hours (hence the disc's title). All of the selections are very similarly slow in tempo, quiet, contemplative, and abstract or even enigmatic in character. A few, such as Hovhaness' Mystic Flute, and the Satie, have the modal sound of music from exotic places. Others are not so tonally oriented or, like the Koechlin, have more than one tonal center, but because these works are so still and calm and generally spare in density and smooth in texture, concurrences of notes that could otherwise be cringe-inducing dissonances are hardly noticed at all. The mood of the music is what matters above all. To some extent, the resonant sound of the recording adds to the atmospheric qualities. Cislowska's interpretations of the pieces are generally neutral in humor, not necessarily being explicitly cheerful or melancholy, as much of the music tends toward an ambiguous or detached expression. The one exception is Schwantner's Veiled Autumn, which is a threnody that, while not being depressive, is not comforting. The Persian Hours is the most programmatic of the music, although "Vision of a Starry Night" from Hovhaness' Sonata Ananda and Chesworth's Apparent Heavenly Movement both represent a view of the skies. There is enough of a difference between pieces and in Cislowska's thoughtful performance of them that the whole disc does not just run together as one long, hour-and-a-quarter wave of sound. She doesn't allow herself to become enthralled in any one piece (in fact, some might find the pace of Gnossienne No. 1 too fast); instead she allows the individual listener to come to his/her own understanding of each one or of the whole program, taking it as a collection of lesser known, reflective piano pieces or as a soothing soundtrack for an introspective interlude.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
3:25 Amazon
2
2:54 Amazon
3
4:21 Amazon
Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
4
2:27 Amazon
5
2:17 Amazon
6
3:26 Amazon
Ananda, sonata for piano, Op. 303
7
3:50 Amazon
Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
8
3:18 Amazon
9
2:37 Amazon
10
2:02 Amazon
Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
11
3:42 Amazon
12
2:44 Amazon
13
3:03
Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
14
4:12
Petits chorals (12), for piano
15
1:33 Amazon
Ananda, sonata for piano, Op. 303
16
3:44 Amazon
17
2:23
Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
18
3:15
19
2:55
20
2:06
blue highlight denotes track pick