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Alternating Currents / Bernadette Harvey

Puts / Edwards / Vine / Harvey,Bernadette
Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Tall Poppies   Catalog #: 212  
Composer:  Grazyna BacewiczHenri DutilleuxRoss EdwardsKevin Puts,   ... 
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ALTERNATING CURRENTS Bernadette Harvey (pn) TALL POPPIES 212 (74:08)

PUTS Alternating Current. EDWARDS Etymalong. BACEWICZ Piano Sonata No. 2. VINE 5 Bagatelles. DUTILLEUX Piano Sonata

Pianist Read more Bernadette Harvey won her first medal in the Sydney Eisteddfod competition at the ripe old age of two and a half. In 1987, she went on to win the ABC Young Performer of the Year award, subsequently performing with all of the major Australian symphony orchestras. She later traveled to Canada, England, and France, studying with Robert Silverman and Cécile Ousset, before winning several scholarships that allowed her to study with both Nelita True and Fernando Laires at the Eastman School of Music. Further studies ensued at Tanglewood with Henri and Genevieve Dutilleux, Gil Kalish, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Julius Levine, before Harvey began teaching at the New England Conservatory. Since then, she has moved back to Australia.

Harvey has put together an eclectic mix of 20th-century piano music all requiring a wide array of technical accomplishment and musical subtlety. As all of these pieces were recorded over a large span of time—the earliest in 1998, the latest in 2010—it is difficult to discern whether they were envisioned as a coherent recital or not. Regardless of that, all of them cater to Harvey’s strengths. Kevin Puts’s Alternating Current is a three-movement work. The first resembles a 20th-century take on a Baroque composition, the second is described by its composer as “a slow dance” with a “sense of quiet nobility,” while the third is a whirling toccata à la Prokofiev. Ross Edwards’s Etymalong , from his Sacred series, is a piece built on the use of quasi-Minimalist repetitious material, though inhabiting a sound world similar to the piano works of Toru Takemitsu. The Polish composer Gra?yna Bacewicz’s Second Piano Sonata, like Kevin Puts’s aforementioned composition, is also composed of three movements in the traditional sonata order of fast, slow, fast. It is at times dissonant, at times sparse. It recalls the percussiveness of some of Bartók’s music while maintaining the rich harmonic language of its age. Carl Vine, perhaps better known to pianists by his sonatas, is here represented by his Five Bagatelles. They are quirky little pieces all with their own individual moods, being just long enough to make one wish that there were a few more of them. The program ends with the biggest work, Dutillieux’s Piano Sonata. It is one of the cornerstones of the 20th-century repertoire and it is the first work of the composer’s that he thought important enough to be considered his opus 1. Its opening is reminiscent of Ravel—think a midcentury version of the Sonatine. It has a particularly French quality throughout, though by its final movement—a theme and variations—one can hear the sound of the Dutillieux that was yet to come.

Throughout this recording, Harvey shows off her ability to master the many techniques necessary to play this music, quickly moving beyond them in order to bring out the subtleties of the music. Recently Robert Levin has also released a very fine recording of the Dutilleux on ECM, which I personally would not want to be without. Whether one has recordings of all these pieces, however—and one probably does not—run out and get this! It makes for some very enjoyable listening.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 2 by Grazyna Bacewicz
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; Poland 
Sonata for Piano by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; France 
Etymalong by Ross Edwards
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; Australia 
Alternating Current by Kevin Puts
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey (Piano)
Bagatelles (5) for Piano by Carl Vine
Performer:  Bernadette Harvey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; Australia 

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