Bernadette Harvey - piano
$23 (Australian dollars)
Buywell - iTunes
|This is Bernadette Harvey's debut solo CD, proudly released by Tall Poppies. Bernadette is one of Australia's finest pianists with a scarily accurate technique, a fearless approach to the nuances of the music she plays, and an ability to make clear at first hearing the intentions of the composer.|
The five works she has chosen for this recording show the range of her interests: the Dutilleux Sonata is one of the best piano works from the 20th century - very French and very brilliant; Kevin Puts’ Alternating Current is demanding on many levels, but always pianistic; Ross Edwards’ Etymalong explores the meditative qualities of nature; the Bacewicz Sonata is an explosive tour de force; Vine’s Bagatelles are by turns cheeky and virtuosic. A pianist has nowhere to hide in this program, and Bernadette responds magnificently to the varying demands of this music.
|Kevin Puts||Alternating Current|
|Grażyna Bacewicz||Piano Sonata No.2|
|Carl Vine||Five Bagatelles|
|Henri Dutilleux||Piano Sonata|
|This collection of piano works has, as its title track, the work by youngest composer on the CD. This is refreshing to see in and of itself, but it's also a good description of the way the recording shifts stylistically between poles (albeit poles that are not very far apart) of neo-tonal lyricism and harsh, dissonant modernist textures (though never crossing into the purely experimental or total control of the integrated serialism). |
The eclectic nature of these works shows a keen programming mind at work here. Each work is contextualised by the works on either side of it, and this kind of background thought promises a thoughtful recording event.
Indeed this is the case, from the order of tracks to the miking technique, this recording displays musical thought and achieves great sonic impact. The sound of these recordings is exciting and, at times, overwhelming. But this is also due to the fiery virtuosity of Bernadette Harvey's playing. This is a pianist worth treasuring. Not only is she willing 10 play modern repertoire (and for this composer, that's almost enough of a reason!) but she attacks each work with an enthusiasm reinforced with superb technique and deep musicianship.
Puts's Alternating Currents is the most tonal work on the recording. At times, it has much in common with American film and television scores from the late 1990's onwards. This always leaves this reviewer feeling that something is missing from the music - visual images primarily. Yet the saving grace of this piece is the breadth of harmonic and rhythmic language in the opening and closing movements, which frame and give context to the lyrical sections.
Ross Edwards's Etymalong is the first alternating current of the CD. After so much space is taken up with the rhythmic drive of Alternating Currents, this work concentrates more, it seems, on the interactions of the resonances within the piano. This is a piece that needs to be heard without distraction. It is a chance for the listener to concentrate deeply on the most subtle nuances and shifts of harmonic colour. It is beautifully recorded.
Vine's Five Bagatelles display both the composer's deep knowledge of the piano and its technical capabilities, and the technical and expressive range of Harvey's playing. This piece has rarely received such a fine advocacy in either the concert hall or in recording. Once again, the technical brilliance of the pianist is matched by the superb sonic world created by the recording.
The final work, Dutilleax's Piano Sonata is probably the most 'modernist' in the collection, and is a powerhouse piece for a formidable pianist: Harvey is more than up to the challenge. Her technique is beyond question, and this is, without a doubt. the best recording of this piece I've heard.
I recommend this most highly to any serious pianist or student of piano literature. It's a wild and fun ride of a sound world that isn't as fully explored as many would like to think.
Music Forum February 2012
site design by carl vine