Mysteries - Sabine Weyer
Ars Produktion ARS 38 313
Classical - Instrumental
Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 13 in F sharp minor (1912)
Sonata No. 3 Op. 19 in C minor (1920/rev. 1939)
Excentricities Op. 25 (1917-18/rev. 1923)
Sonata No. 2 Op. 105 (2007/rév. 2008/10)
Sonata No. 3 "Sonata impetuosa" Op. 122 (2011)
Fantaisie Op. 134 (2014/2016)
Sabine Weyer (piano)
It is surprising that the works gathered here, written almost a century apart (1912-1920 for Miaskovsky's Sonatas and 2007-2011 for those by Nicolas Bacri), can share the same hyper-expressiveness, with dark, tortured, panting climates, others of a lost lyricism or a poignant melancholy. Indeed, usually programs juxtaposing romantic and contemporary composers play on the shock of a frank opposition, a radical heterogeneity, a totally different concept of music, but not when it comes to Nicolas Bacri. How can we understand this spatial-temporal hiatus that allows this proximity, this apparent continuity between these two creators, despite their historical and cultural distance? Bacri's third Sonata, here in its world premiere recording, is inspired by Miaskovsky's third Sonata and dedicated to his memory. They both share the same taste for highly emotional music, as if there was a certain kinship of soul between them. It is this enigma that we need to clarify in order to under-stand what is at stake in the prodigious, chaotic and perilous evolution of musical art in the 20th century.
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- Nicolas Bacri: Fantaisie Op. 134 (2014/2016)
- Nicolas Bacri: Sonata No. 2 Op. 105 (2007/rév. 2008/10)
- Nicolas Bacri: Sonata No. 3 "Sonata impetuosa" Op. 122 (2011)
- Nikolai Miaskovsky: Excentricities Op. 25 (1917-18/rev. 1923)
- Nikolai Miaskovsky: Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 13 in F sharp minor (1912)
- Nikolai Miaskovsky: Sonata No. 3 Op. 19 in C minor (1920/rev. 1939)
Review by Adrian Quanjer - January 10, 2021
This is Sabine Weyer’s fourth ARS release and with every new instalment, this young talent from the Grand Dutchy of Luxemburg grows in grandeur and maturity. This time she combines two composers, Nikolaï Miaskovsky and Nicolas Bacri, far apart in time and place, but having similar ideas about structure, expression, and tonality. (The similarity of first names is, of course, purely coincidental). Much of Miaskovsky’s oeuvre, notably his symphonies, is based on Russian classic tradition, whilst Bacri, a prolific French composer of our time, rejecting the ‘dictate’ of the Avant-gardism in the second half of the 20th century, had, according to Sabine, the ‘courage’ to turn to melody and tonality.
Listening to the sonatas Sabine has chosen for this release, the aforementioned characteristics don’t seem to be as clear cut as that, taking more listening time to begin to understand. Miaskovsky’s piano sonatas differ markedly from the melodious tonality of his symphonies, which were possibly to a large degree designed to please the Soviet people’s taste (and that of the Ministry of Culture, earning him the Stalin Prize for his 21st Symphony-Fantasy, recently reviewed by Graham Williams). As for Bacri, his second and third piano sonatas are not altogether as tonal as expected - at least not to my ears – but rather a mixture of old and new. The result is that with Miaskovsky’s looking forward and Bacri’s looking (kind of) backward their sonatas come closer to one another in musical language. But there is more.
Sabine Weyer observes that both composers “share the same hyper-expressiveness, with dark, tortured, panting climates”, and “the same taste for highly emotional music, as if there was a certain kinship of soul between them”. An interesting thought that warrants further exploration. Since she has much more to say on the subject, I suggest satisfying your curiosity by reading her detailed notes. Question is, to what extent is Bacri’s oeuvre a revival of musical history or mere confirmation of a movement that started already in the course of the eighties of the past century by some composers wanting to get away from often unstructured experimentalism and innovation just for the sake of it?
Whatever the reason, this release seems to me an important one, being, on the one hand, an unmissable element in understanding musical development, and on the other, perhaps for most of us even more so, a valuable addition to the catalogue with rarely played or recorded piano music of composers definitely meriting much more attention.
As I discovered in previous recordings, Mrs. Weyer has a musical personality that is not easily put in a ranking list of her generation. She does not have the urge to impress by eager ‘glittery’ or similar means to stand out from the crowd. In this release, I noticed even more clearly than before how she approaches these sonatas in an admirably considered manner. Letting the music speak for itself rather than trying to add to the musical language what she thinks the listener wants to believe. An honest broker, one might say, laying bare the dark corners, not shunning to light the fire when and where asked for, whilst faithfully uncovering the emotional expressiveness in each of the sonatas. In doing so, she proves her point. I furthermore liked her feeling for Bacri and her soft French touch at the beginning of his second sonata.
If you like her carefully projected and technically flawless approach, chances are that you will like her reading of these sonatas a lot. It happened to me. For a review I normally listen bit by bit - so to speak - taking notes as the music progresses, comparing with similar bits played by the competition, which, in this case, is non-existent (I must admit that my shelves are not overloaded with Miaskowski, nor Bacri, for that matter). So, I listened to all of it in one go; an impressive experience, which, leaving the well-trodden path of standard classical fare, you may want to share. But do take your time. It’s worth it.
There is, of course, more than the four sonatas on this disc. And our luck is that the additions go markedly beyond filling up available space. Miaskovsky’s Exentricities are a collection of jewels shedding more light on his capability for musical detail. The same applies to Bacri’s charming Fantasie.
As for the sound: Standard superior ARS quality, with the surround being more pronounced than just ambient.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France
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