1. Lutyens: V1: Piano Works / Jones

Lutyens: Piano Works, Vol. 1 / Martin Jones

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The name Elisabeth Lutyens is synonymous with music that is overtly serial, uncompromisingly modernist, and of daring and fearless individuality. Yet there is much to...

The name Elisabeth Lutyens is synonymous with music that is overtly serial, uncompromisingly modernist, and of daring and fearless individuality. Yet there is much to explore behind the naturally combative and provocative façade of this extraordinary composer, whose music is at various times sensual, thoughtful and delicate, as well as dark, turbulent and even violent. With a program of works all composed in the last decade of her life, and containing world premiere recordings, the first volume of pianist Martin Jones’s survey of Lutyens’s piano works includes five works at times startling in their stark beauty, and bursting with both vivid imagery and lyrical fluidity.

REVIEW:

Was there ever as unrepentant a lifelong modernist - or one so dedicated to the sensuous, poetic, emotive potential of atonal music - as Elisabeth Lutyens, the composer who coined the term "cowpat school", inveighed against "folky-wolky modal melodies" and chided her students for "boring tonal references" if she unearthed an accidental major or minor triad in their compositions? Boulez, maybe, but few others.

The works here on Vol. 1 are all relatively late, the earliest being Plenum I (signifying a silent space filled up with sound, emptied out, and refilled) of 1972. Notated without barlines and with some economically used extended techniques, the piece is representative of Lutyens greater freedom of notation in later years, though strictly organized with note-rows and in her favourite palindromic form. Notated silence is increasingly important in later works, especially the spare, though amply expressive, La Natura dell’Acqua, her last work for piano. Detached phrases and gestures - many delicate and bejewelled, some aggressive and strident - combine in an abstract but expressive way that the composer likened to the late, non-figurative paintings of Turner. An even better example of this is the marvelously descriptive The Great Seas, an 18-minute tone poem hailed by Michael Finnissy (who premiered it) for its "sensuality … delicacy and fluidity" but also "violence, darkness and pain", which predominantly gives the impression of vast, calm expanses illuminated by constantly changing lighting conditions, but intermittently and graphically hints at the extreme violence of deep currents and suddenly flaring storms. The Preludes are a perfect summation of Lutyens' piano writing; bearing evocative titles (three of them from Keats), they are highly expressive and descriptive, the shade of Debussy detectable in the background. Although the composer preferred French clarity, lucidity, and elegance to what she saw as heavyweight German Expressionism, two of these pieces - "Strange Thunders …" and "The Shifting of Mighty Winds …" are notable for their muscular, aggressive energy. The earlier Impromptus are the most unabashedly, dissonantly atonal works here; succinct and compressed, they sound like passionate, extrovert derivatives of Webernian economy.



Product Description:


  • Release Date: October 15, 2021


  • UPC: 5060262793183


  • Catalog Number: RES20191


  • Label: Resonus Classics


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: 20th Century


  • Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens


  • Performer: Martin Jones



Works:


  1. Preludes (7) for Piano, Op. 126

    Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens

    Performer: Martin Jones (Piano)


  2. The Great Seas, Op. 132

    Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens

    Performer: Martin Jones (Piano)


  3. Impromptus (5), Op. 116

    Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens

    Performer: Martin Jones (Piano)


  4. Plenum I, Op. 86

    Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens

    Performer: Martin Jones (Piano)


  5. La natura dell’Acqua, Op. 154

    Composer: Elisabeth Lutyens

    Performer: Martin Jones (Piano)