Mode’s Scelsi Edition continues with the fourth volume devoted to his piano works — three first recordings of major, large scale works from his early period of the 1930s.
The piano plays a role of undeniable importance in Scelsi’s life and work. From 1930 to 1941, and again from 1952 to 1956, the composer produced an enormous repertoire for the instrument, including 40 Preludes, 11 Suites, four Sonatas, and many solo works. The works on this CD attest to his brilliance as an improviser, his sensitivity to rhythm and colour, and the originality of his compositional identity. While much of Scelsi’s work is highly chromatic, reflecting the influence of Scriabin and Berg, Hispania contains long passages of predominantly diatonic material, using mostly the white keys of the piano with very few accidentals. It also shows the influence of French neoclassicism and impressionism, with certain moments recalling the Spanish-themed works of Ravel and Debussy.
Rhythm, an aspect of music which Scelsi held as equivalent to vitality, is the true shaping force in the short vignettes of Suite No. 5: Il Circo or The Circus, an image that is full of possible connotations from the ancient (as in Rome’s Circus Maximus) to the exotic.
Suite No. 6: I Capricci di Ty takes more steps in the direction of Scelsi’s later minimalistic style, with entire movements focusing on this type of material, with variable beats in each bar and time signatures often omitted altogether. ‘Ty’ was Scelsi’s nickname for his wife, Dorothy.
One of Canada’s leading pianists, Stephen Clarke has performed as a soloist in festivals in Europe, Canada and the U.S, with such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Composers’ Orchestra.
This audiophile quality recording was made using high-resolution 96khz/24-bit technology.
4th March 2011
“[Hispania] is the musical equivalent of dressage, a beautifully-rendered presentation of mannered, equestrian moves. "Suite 5" has a similarly prancing dissonance, while "Suite 6" is fast, rangy and explosive; like "Hispania", it uses repeated single-note motifs.”