Recording: American Tonal
American Record Guide, Nov/Dec 1999

“attractive program… thoroughly musical… vividly recorded and sensitively played”

Subtitled “American Tonal”, this attractive program offers one old and one new composer of romantic American piano music, vividly recorded and sensitively played by Jeanne Golan. The disc opens with a lyrical, reflective reading of Barber’s Sonata, not as tempestuous as Horowitz or Cliburn, who deliver a hair-raising frisson at the end of the fugue that this pianist does not attempt. For an atmospheric, thoroughly musical, non-bangy version, this one is hard to beat. Barber’s exquisite Nocturne and moody Ballade also come off nicely, with warm tone and phrasing.

Qualities of Light is a dazzling piece of impressionism by pianist-composer Daron Hagen that should prove a welcome addition to the repertory. It will please audiences with its colorful accessibility and pianists for its virtuosic writing. The harmonic range is wide, from the dark dissonance of II to the unabashedly tonal romanticism of the big tune in the middle of the finale. The opening, ‘Dusk’, is spare and lonely, in a style that seems highly personal; the other two movements recall Messiaen in their modal harmony, wide-spacing voicing, percussive pass, and brilliant showers of notes raining down from the treble. In her intelligent liner notes, Golan sees the long, benevolent shadow of Ravel in Hagen’s harmonies and voicing. The piece certainly sounds French, in a thoroughly seductive way.

by Jack Sullivan

[ Return to Concerts & Recordings ]