Notes and Editorial Reviews
12 Interpretational Etudes
Prodromos Symeonidis (pn)
TELOS TLS 091 (71:56)
In my previous encounters with the music of Maurice Ohana, I have described it as sensuous, direct, colorful, and even magical. I am happy to re-apply those adjectives to this second volume of Greek pianist Prodromos Symeonidis’s survey of his complete solo piano music. It is useful to briefly recap the bio of this unique composer. He was born in Casablanca in 1913, of Sephardic and Andalusian heritage, and but for the
interruption of World War II lived in Paris from 1932 to his death in 1992, eventually taking French citizenship.
His music is an olio of influences, but very much in the French tradition, with strong washes of Impressionism, as well as doses of the modernism of Messiaen and even the contemporary flavoring of the spectral school. In that spirit, Ohana’s music is highly dependent on the sonic qualities of the instrument, a quality Symeonidis clearly grasps, with playing that is strongly visceral. Ohana’s specific language is not apish at all, and a strong personal expressiveness comes through without much traditional technique, in the manner of abstract painting. In his thorough and illuminating notes, the pianist refers to “free improvisatory monody” as the essential design of the music’s harmony. There is a stream-of-consciousness manner to the writing, lending the music a rather theatrical cast. This quality is enhanced in the second book of the etudes, 6 through 12, with the addition of percussion effects (courtesy of German percussionist Friedemann Werzlau).
Ohana’s music is unquestionably dense and abstract, but it is also emotionally direct and surprisingly accessible, so I encourage even moderately adventuresome music lovers to consider this very well-produced presentation, especially those with a predilection for musical things Gallic.
FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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