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Bright Moods / Milica Jovanovic

Prokofiev / Bartok / Sommer / Jovanovic
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1419   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei ProkofievIgor KaracaVladan RadovanovicRoger Briggs,   ... 
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRIGHT MOODS Milica Jelaca Jovanovic (pn) MSR 81419 (61:58)

PROKOFIEV Sarcasms. KARACA Nocturne. RADOVANOVIC 6 Preludes. BRIGGS Impromptu. RADIC 3 Preludes. SOMMER Read more class="ARIAL12bi">5 Pieces on Poems by Robert Frost. BARTÓK Out of Doors

Serbian pianist Milica Jelaca Jovanovic studied at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory (Moscow) and the University of Michigan. She teaches at Western Washington University.

There is a nice phrase in Edward Rutschman’s excellent booklet notes describing how Prokofiev’s penchant for lyricism and his taste for dissonance “allowed the ghost of Rachmaninoff-past to meet the spirit of Stravinsky-future.” Jovanovic injects a nice bite into her Prokofiev. Her true sense of rhythm enables her to give convincing rubato in the second of the set, while the Allegro precipitato, the third movement, is nicely explosive. Here would be a good place to comment that the disc is very well recorded indeed, conveying the intensity of the pianist’s playing throughout. The sense of mystery in this music is likewise honored.

The Nocturne by Bosnian composer Igor Karaca, dedicated to the present pianist, is a clear homage to Chopin (the decorative filigree is unmistakably a personalization of Chopin’s fingerprint style). The incorporation of a more advanced harmonic framework than even late Chopin would employ allows the music to float outside of temporality.

Jovanovic has chosen six (out of 24) preludes by the Belgrade-born composer Vladan Radovanovic. The composer uses the term “polymusic” to describe his eclectic range of techniques (the E Minor, the second we hear, nods to the Baroque, for example). He could hardly wish for a better champion than Jovanovic, whose ability to change mood instantaneously stands her in good stead here. The harmonies can seem elusive, elided, which adds to the mystery and fascination of this curious (in the positive sense) music.

If the name Briggs seems out of place here (Roger Briggs, head of composition at Western Washington University), his Impromptu slots in remarkably well. It was composed directly at Jovanovic's request, and is a piece that unfurls at its own laidback pace before a savage interjection (realized most excitingly here) wakens it from its stupor.

There is a Rachmaninoff tolling-bell aspect to the first of Dusan Radic's preludes, although as the booklet notes point out the overall feel is closer to Scriabin. This is impressive music, especially the ominous processional of the third prelude. Lesley Sommer intriguingly uses the idea of night in Robert Frost (a metaphor for death) as the basis for her two interludes, which separate the pieces inspired by the poems “Acquainted with the Night,” “Design,” and “Come In.” This is a fascinating piece. Sommer uses musical quotation effectively (from the song Falling in Love Again by Friedrich Hollaender). The “Secret Interlude 2” begins with the most wonderful delicacy before shifting suddenly to a jazz version of Falling in Love Again . There is the impression of being taken by the hand on a fantastical journey.

Finally, some Bartók, an exciting, eminently musical account of Out of Doors that might lack the final ounce of authenticity of, say, a Ránki (Teldec) or a Kocsis (Philips), but remains a creditable achievement. Overall, then, a most intriguing disc.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Sarcasms (5) for Piano, Op. 17 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1914; Russia 
Nocturne for Piano by Igor Karaca
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Written: 2011 
Preludes (6) for Piano by Vladan Radovanovic
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954-1955 
Impromptu for Piano by Roger Briggs
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Written: 2007 
Pieces (5) by Poems on Robert Frost by Lesley Sommer
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Out of Doors, Sz 81 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Milica Jonanovic (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 

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