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Këngë - Albanian Piano Music / Kirsten Johnson


Release Date: 06/24/2003 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 7257   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Feim IbrahimiKosma LaraPellumb VorpsiJ. Papadhimitri,   ... 
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It's reasonable to suspect that Western audiences--especially Americans--have little contact with Albanian piano music. Pianist Kirsten Johnson has traveled to Albania to research the repertoire, interviewing pianists, composers, and musicologists along the way, and then performing this music in Albanian venues. Under Enver Hoxha's communist regime (1944 through 1985), composers were forbidden to study any music written after March 5, 1953 (the day both Stalin and Prokofiev died). Any new piece had to be approved by the Albanian League of Artists and Writers prior to public performance. Given such restrictions, it's not surprising how a lot of this music draws upon Albania's folk heritage and is stylistically accessible.

Read more /> A triptych by Alberto Paparisto includes a Song of Ancient Times (replete with tolling bass lines), plus a modal Toccata. Neither it nor Arian Avrazi's Toccata quite matches the sophistication and invention that Feim Ibrahimi displays in his own Toccata that opens this disc with a bang. A suite of short pieces by Kozma Lara makes fewer demands on both pianist and listener. Tonin Harapi's surface simplicity, though, conceals a subtle and refined style that just might grow on you over repeated listening. The same holds true for Pellumb Vorspi's Variations on a Popular Theme and Ramadan Sokoli's Nocturne No. 2.


Song of Bravery, by Simon Gjoni, creates a more ambivalent impression than the title implies in its intentionally stilted syncopations and bleak textures. And an arrangement of the popular song Nina-Nana by one J. Papadhimitri wouldn't be out of place among the G. I. Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann collaborations. I'm particularly taken with the stark rhetoric, quirky harmonic language, and restrained passion of Çesk Zadeja's Four Pieces for Piano, which suggest a latter-day Janácek.


Kirsten Johnson's loving mastery of this music and skillful, nuanced pianism are a delight. What is more, she's able to find just the right tempo, sound world, dynamic range, and character that allows each piece to emerge as an individual entity, from her exquisite legato in Zadeja's lyrical writing to the Ibrahimi Toccata's piquant fingerwork. The engineering turns a bit strident in louder moments and picks up too many pedal noises for my taste. Don't let that prevent you from hearing this fascinating release. Does Johnson plan a sequel?
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Toccata for Piano by Feim Ibrahimi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962-1968; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
2.
Happy Days: no 11, Song by Kosma Lara
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960s 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
3.
March for Piano by Kosma Lara
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1975; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
4.
Ballade for Piano no 4 "Pastorale" by Kosma Lara
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1975; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 4 Minutes 10 Secs. 
5.
Moderato by Kosma Lara
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1971; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 20 Secs. 
6.
Allegro by Kosma Lara
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1975; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
7.
Variations (6) for Piano on a Popular Theme "Ballad" by Pellumb Vorpsi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 9 Minutes 29 Secs. 
8.
Nina-Nana by J. Papadhimitri
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1983; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 
9.
Ciftelia by Alberto Paparisto
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
10.
Song of the Ancient Times by Alberto Paparisto
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
11.
Humoreska for Piano by Alberto Paparisto
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
12.
Song of Bravery by Simon Gjoni
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1983; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
13.
Nocturne for Piano no 2 by Ramadan Sokoli
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
14.
Pieces (4) for Piano by Cesk Zadeja
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 11 Minutes 27 Secs. 
15.
Romance for Piano in A flat major by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1987; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
16.
Children's Dance by A. Komino
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1983; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 28 Secs. 
17.
A Little Pain by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 10 Secs. 
18.
Romance for Piano in A minor by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 9 Secs. 
19.
A Candied Apple by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
20.
Waltz for Piano on a popular theme by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1987; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
21.
Tokkata for Piano by Arian Avrazi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
22.
Andante con moto by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 1 Minutes 21 Secs. 
23.
Allegro vivo by Tonin Harapi
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1966; Albania 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol 
Length: 0 Minutes 47 Secs. 

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