WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Sessions: Complete Works For Solo Piano / Barry David Salwen


Release Date: 05/1992 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7106   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc fills a glaring gap in the CD discography of American music—it's the first recording of the complete piano music of Roger Sessions and the only CD recording of the three sonatas. 1 would no doubt recommend it for those reasons alone, but since Barry David Salwen and Koch International have done a splendid job with the project, I can recommend it very strongly.

Sessions's piano music covers virtually his entire career, from 1927 to 1978. The Sonata No. 1 (1927-30) is a big, important piece, one that encompasses and anticipates various styles of American music, from the Copland Piano Variations to the American neo-classical composers (Dello Joio comes to mind in Sessions's sprightly finale) to the Romantics such as
Read more Barber. The single-movement structure has the scope of the Liszt B-Minor Sonata compressed into fifteen minutes.

The Sonata No. 2 (1946) might be called a Sonatina in Time of War—the perky figurations operate within a harmonic world of intensity and dissonance; Sessions conceived of the last movement as goose-stepping. The level of intensity is still greater in the powerful Sonata No. 3 (1964-65), whose last movement is an elegy for President Kennedy. The smaller works are almost equally intense—Sessions never cultivated any musical small talk.

Throughout the disc, Saiwen projects the essentially linear and contrapuntal nature of Sessions's thinking. This is essential—the high level of dissonance can sound like banging in less understanding, clarifying performances. Saiwen also takes every opportunity to make the music sparkle. In every way this disc is a labor of love, making the best case for this music, which is often thorny, even grim, but always deeply satisfying.

Liner notes (uncredited but presumably by Saiwen, who is also the Executive Director of the Roger Sessions Society) are well written and informative. The sound quality is excellent.

-- Scott Wheeler, FANFARE [9/1992] Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Piano no 1 by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927-1930; USA 
2. Sonata for Piano no 2 by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
3. Sonata for Piano no 3 "Kennedy" by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964-1965 
4. From My Diary by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1940 
5. Pieces (5) for Piano by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974-1975; USA 
Notes: The actual title of this work is "5 Pieces". 
6. Waltz for Piano by Roger Sessions
Performer:  Barry David Salwen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1978 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook