Diane Andersen

Vincent d'Indy: Sonata in E major; Poème des Montagnes

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Though many French late romantic composers tried their hand at writing a symphony -- one thinks of works in the form by Franck, Lalo, Chausson, and Dukas -- very few took on the challenge of writing a piano sonata. Only the efforts by Dukas and d'Indy usually come to mind, and of the two works, Dukas' is vastly more popular. Listening to this masterful performance by Diane Andersen, it's hard to understand why this might be so. Written on a vast scale and aspiring to the greatness of Beethoven's later sonatas, d'Indy's three-movement sonata is a work in the heroic grand manner and its technical fluency and expressive intensity mark it as part of d'Indy's oeuvre. Played here with total commitment and tremendous brio by pianist Andersen, the sonata comes alive in a masterful performance. Andersen doesn't undersell the work's lyricism, nor does she oversell its climaxes, but rather, she grants the work its due in a reading that speaks both to the head and the heart. Coupled with the much earlier Poème des Montagnes, a suite of five works written under the heady influence of Liszt, performed with equal skill and sympathy, Andersen's account of d'Indy's sonata should be heard by all fans of French late romantic composers. Talent's digital sound is clean and solid, but not especially evocative.

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