Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986): Ballades 1-3; Arabesques; Cantilenas (8); Impressions (5) et al. / Eliane Reyes, piano music May04

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Naxos Record Label – Naxos: The #1 independent classical music distributor in the U.S. and Canada; specializing in state-of-the-art physical & digital distribution services, marketing and promotion. Celebrating 25 years in 2012.
Release Date: 2014-01-28


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Alexandre Tansman Piano Music / Eliane Reyes, piano


This release marks the fifth CD issued by Naxos dedicated entirely to the music of Alexandre Tansman and is the second of the composer's piano music. Belgian pianist and contemporary music specialist Eliane Reyes performs both piano programs by this composer who, during his lifetime, was considered a peer of such luminaries as Ravel, Roussel, Milhaud, Stravinsky and Bartók.

Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986) was a Polish-born composer who, after completing his studies in Warsaw, moved to France where he spent most of the remainder of his life. While the musically conservative atmosphere in Poland thwarted full acceptance of his music there, in Paris, he not only found enthusiastic acceptance for it but also encouragement from some of the greatest composers of his day, including Stravinsky and Ravel.

This program is made up of four suites for piano and the Three Ballades. All of the music is strikingly original and interesting, but it's in the Ballades where Tansman's most personal expressions are to be heard. Each Ballade is about ten minutes in length with distinctly contrasting sections and an overall plaintive tone. The sample in the sidebar is Ballade No. 1. Like the other two, which were all written in the space of about two months early in 1941, it's rhapsodic in design with chromatic harmonies, a grave mood and at times, a rather improvisatory feeling.

In contrast to the Ballades, the other four sets of pieces are imbued with rhythmic, harmonic, melodic and formal characteristics of music from various times during the previous two centuries. While the music is not as tonally ambiguous as the Ballades, Tansman takes traditional forms and methods, personalizing them with many of the varied and far ranging harmonic options available to a composer of his time. Each has its own stylistic character. Cinq Impressions (1934) is influenced by jazz and French impressionism. Arabesques (1930) takes its influence from the Romantic and Post-Romantic eras with echoes of Chopin, Satie and Scriabin. Both Suite dans le style ancien (1929) and Eight Cantilenas (Homage to J.S. Bach) (1949) draw influences from the Baroque, especially in terms of rhythmic and formal design. There are many very lovely passages in these works.

If you are interested in seeking out more of Tansman's piano music, Ms. Reyes excellent reading of the composer's 24 Intermezzi and Petite Suite can be found on Naxos 8572266. There's a few selections from that album in the video below.

Pianist Eliane Reyes plays three Intermezzi from her earlier Naxos Album of Tansman's piano music.