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Spencer Myer Plays Preludes & Variations

Release Date: 11/13/2007 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907477   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ellis B. KohsAaron CoplandFerruccio BusoniClaude Debussy
Performer:  Spencer Myer
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you could grant an award for most imaginative and thoughtful piano recital programming, Spencer Myer's solo debut would win hands down. You probably have never heard of the opening work's composer, Ellis B. Kohs (1916-2000), who studied with Piston and Stravinsky and spent most of his career teaching at the University of Southern California. His Variations on L'Homme Armé dresses the noted Renaissance hit tune in a wide array of virtuosic, pianistically effective, yet compositionally insubstantial gestures. Within these goings on, the tune essentially remains untransformed, stuck at square one (the best L'Homme Armé variation set for piano is the last movement of Frederic Rzewski's Sonata). Still, Myer's masterful, Read more vivacious, and committed performance makes Kohs' best possible case.

I've rarely heard Busoni's thorny Variations on Chopin's C minor Prelude sound so effortless, suavely dispatched, and harmonically aware as Myer plays them; check out the amazingly even two-handed octave runs and the lithe, supple fugue. On the other hand, Copland's Piano Variations really need sharper marcato articulation and wider dynamic contrasts than Myer's nonetheless assured performance delivers. Perhaps that has something to do with the pleasant yet soft-focused engineering.

Such a sonic patina better suits the "hammerless" aesthetic to which Debussy aspired in his Preludes Book Two. Myer's idiomatic, spontaneously phrased interpretations hold many delights, including a humorously timed General Lavine--Eccentric, plus sparkling, impressively even fingerwork in "Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses" and the final two preludes. However, you could imagine more tonal shimmer and mystery in Feuilles mortes and Canopes, while Myer articulates La Puerta del Vino's basic Habanera rhythm too earnestly for the music's sultry undertones to register. These reservations are minor in light of Myer's undeniable talent and intelligent musicianship. I await his future CD releases with interest, and also hope to hear him in concert.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Variations on L'homme Arme by Ellis B. Kohs
Performer:  Spencer Myer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Variations for Piano by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Spencer Myer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; USA 
Variations and Fugue on Chopin's Prelude in C minor, Op. 22/K 213 by Ferruccio Busoni
Performer:  Spencer Myer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884; Austria 
Préludes, Book 2 by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Spencer Myer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; France 

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