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CD Review

Piano Sonatas

  • Edward MacDowell:
  • Sonata for Piano #1 in G minor, Op. 45 "Tragica"
  • Sonata for Piano #4 in E minor, Op. 59 "Keltic"
  • Paul Hindemith:
  • Sonata for Piano #2
  • Sonata for Piano #3
  • Dance Pieces, Op. 19
Sheila Randall, piano
Lyrita REAM2110 2CDs 88m ADD
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Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) and Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) are certainly not two of a kind. The former is considered one of America's foremost composers of the late romantic era while the latter was maybe the most consummate musician to come out of Germany during the last century. So is pairing their piano music together a wise choice?

Indeed it is! Like his contemporaries Chadwick and Parker, MacDowell's European training led to a deep admiration for German romanticism, and all this is reflected in his musical style and personality. The two sonatas on this disc are conceived on a grand scale and their opulence conjures up an era of bygone elegance and wild imagination found in the works of Schumann, Liszt, Raff as well as Wagner and Grieg.

In spite of his more dissonant language, Hindemith was also influenced by the romantic vein of his native predecessors, and his music can be regarded as the culmination of that quest for perfection initiated almost a century before his birth. The three piano works on this issue testify to Hindemith's ability both as a composer and as a performer, and although these pieces present a huge technical challenge to any soloist, their inner dramatic content and contemplative aura make them instantly approachable works.

The legendary Sheila Randall gives inspired and fiery renditions, and her virtuosity serves the music with intensity and dedication. The recordings were taped more than half a century ago but sound quality is surprisingly good and clear. Informative notes complete another Lyrita issue which should delight many a piano buff.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech