Notes and Editorial Reviews
There is as much an art in composing a miniature as there is in writing a short story. Both are notoriously difficult since telling a complete story in a brief time is a real challenge. In music there are some brilliant examples from Chopin to Satie. Ned Rorem’s name can be added to the list as this disc will amply demonstrate.
Jim Holmes, Ned’s partner of thirty-two years, was the inspiration for the majority of the pieces in Piano Album I, along with other close friends. He would ensure that each piece would fit onto a single page so that he could then brightly decorate it and frame it. That alone makes for the minute scale of these pieces, with only a single example lasting much over two minutes. As Rorem is quoted in the
insert, he then incorporated many of them into others of his works. I always think this is such a good idea, since so many composers’ wonderful tunes only get single outings, which is a shame. Six Friends is another similar set; all these miniatures are so gentle in their writing. The overall feeling is of an oasis of serene calm that is the perfect antidote to a stressful day.
I have been listening again while writing this review to another disc of Rorem’s music also from Naxos. This includes his works End of Summer and Bright Music. Each confirms his originality which seems boundless.
Time magazine called him “the world’s best composer of art songs” with over 400 to his name which I must make a mental note to check out.
The pianist here, Carolyn Enger, plays with a highly sympathetic approach to the delicate phrasing required to emphasise the gentle nature of these pieces.
This disc is a good place to start an exploration of one of America’s most distinguished composers.
– Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Piano Album I by Ned Rorem
Carolyn Enger (Piano)
Six Friends by Ned Rorem
Carolyn Enger (Piano)
Piano Album I: Song Without Words
Piano Album I: Carol-Pastiche
Piano Album I: Serenade for Two Paws
Piano Album I: 19 Measures for Jim
Piano Album I: Golden Notes on Nearing Fifty
Piano Album I: Another Little Song Without Words
Piano Album I: This Serpentine Etude
Piano Album I: For a Perfect Friend
Piano Album I: Marriage Measures
Piano Album I: Snapshot of Jack
Piano Album I: A Little Waltz for Jim at Fifty-Five
Piano Album I: A Melody for Shirley
A Talisman for Jim on Christmas Eve: Piano Album I:
Piano Album I: On His Birthday
Piano Album I: A Berceuse for Jim at Christmas
Piano Album I: A Christmas Card for Mary and Rosemary
Piano Album I: For A Perfect Sister
Piano Album I: A Sarabande for the Only Jim in the World
Piano Album I: 60 Notes for Judy
Piano Album I: 77 Notes for Rosemary
Piano Album I: 99 Notes for the Millennium
Piano Album I: Waiting to Get Well
Piano Album I: 40 Chords for Mark on April First
6 Friends: 75 Notes for Jerry
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