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Larcher Böse Zellen; Still & Madhares

Till Fellner: prepared-piano; Kim Kashkashian: viola;
Diotima Quartet; Münchener Kammerorchester/ Dennis Russell Davies

ECM New Series 2111

Here is a disc which I urge you to explore and recommend for purchase, but to describe it is nearly impossible.

Manfred Eicher of ECM has championed pianist/composer Thomas Larcher for nearly a decade; the chosen cover image is typically evocative, and his chosen liner notes writer is inclined to the poetic and elliptical.

Help is at hand however, and to assist readers I am content to defer to other, sometimes halting writings and, best of all, to urge you to watch an interview (in English) with the composer himself.

Having admired his playing of Schubert and Schönberg, I wrote after a piano festival in Lucerne, at which he juxtaposed Schubert with Rebecca Saunders: "May a critic from London venture impertinently to suggest that Michael Haefliger and his team could do well to involve Pierre Aimard and Larcher in discussions of how to make the main 'classical' Piano festival catch up with Lucerne Summer".

I endorse the enthusiasm of the reviews linked below.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Further links: http://player.ecmrecords.com/larcher

and http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/may/06/thomas-larcher-bose-zellen-review

- - a truly refreshing musical voice for modern times, music which insinuates itself on your attention by stealth; the door to the sound world of each of these pieces 'opens slowly and carefully (crescendo dal niente) and withdraws to leave us in a new, different stillness' [Scotsman].

Henri Dutilleux - music for piano(s)

Petit air à dormer debout
Piano Sonata
Au gré des ondes I. Prélude en berceuse & III. Improvisation
Blackbird Tous les chemins ... mènent à Rome
Figures de résonances with Ya-Fei Chuang (piano)
Trois Preludes
Au gré des ondes

Robert Levin (piano)

ECM New Series 2105

This disc was a labour of love and admiration by Robert Levin, nowadays perhaps better known as a fortepianist? Levin met Dutilleux in 1979, when they shared composition teaching at the American Conservatoire at Fontainbleau, and this recording is a testament to their friendship.

It is marked by the precision of Dutilleux's fastidious compositions (a small oeuvre) realised to perfection in these Radio Svizzera recordings made in Lugano, 2008. Everything he wrote was refined and perfected, and it makes for marvellous listening. Resonances within the piano are crucial and are ideally conveyed in these performances. Only the Sonata will be known to most readers; it is given with a nonchalant virtuosity which suits it ideally. Levin's notes are full and informative; he persuaded Dutilleux to allow him to finish with, as a pendant, a group of youthful works written for the radio. The heart of the disc is the group of Résonances and Figures de résonances (for two pianos) and the substantial preludes of the 70s-80s.

A disc to cherish.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Photo: Thomas Hammje