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Benjamin Boren Plays Carl Vine

Vine / Boren
Release Date: 01/10/2012 
Label:  Enharmonic Records   Catalog #: 021  
Composer:  Carl Vine
Performer:  Benjamin Boren

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VINE Piano Sonatas: Nos. 1–3. The Anne Landa Preludes Benjamin Boren (pn) ENHARMONIC ENCD11-021 (76:15)

In his informative review of Michael Kieran Harvey’s excellent CD covering most of this repertoire (Tall Poppies 190), Phillip Scott aptly summarized Carl Vine’s music as “large-gesture Lisztian Romanticism, tempered by the influence of Messiaen, Carter, and other modernists” ( Fanfare 30:5). You might also want to throw Read more Kapustin (or the jazz pianists who inspired him) and Ives into the mix—and perhaps Debussy as well (surely, “La Cathédrale engloutie” hovers beneath the Lento middle section of the First Sonata’s second movement). But while those points of orientation help describe Vine’s overall style (at least in the works I’ve heard), they don’t quite define it: Vine is more than a magpie, and his mercurial and often whimsical temperament, coupled with his obvious enthusiasm for the instrument’s bravura potential, give his music a distinctive profile. It’s simultaneously accessible, modern, individual, and (not least) thrilling; it’s therefore no wonder that the 1990 First Sonata has become such a popular vehicle for imaginative virtuosos hoping to make a different kind of splash.

Benjamin Boren’s pedigree involves study with such radically different pianists as André Watts, Jerome Lowenthal, Gilbert Kalish, and Claude Frank (among others)—and he approaches the music with an impressive blend of musicality and technical panache. The most volatile torrents of notes are delivered with steadiness and clarity; more important, he has an impressive vertical tact. Vine often superimposes musical ideas with differing colors, rhythms, and spirits—and no matter how fearsome the textures, Boren manages to keep the conflicts (especially the rhythmic conflicts) keenly focused.

Is he better than Harvey? Perhaps not; Harvey sometimes handles transitions more cannily, and the more explosive sections (like the glissandos into the forearm clusters at measures 104 and 160 in the first movement of the First) have even greater effect in his hands. Harvey is also slightly more sensitive to Vine’s sentimental side (for instance, in the Romance from the Anne Landa Preludes ). But Boren is certainly in the same league, and in place of the Bagatelles and Red Blues on Harvey’s recording, Boren gives us the first recording that I’ve encountered of the 2007 Third Sonata. Boren’s notes suggest that it’s an “introspective and brooding” work that offers “relief [from] the extraordinary virtuosity of the first two sonatas.” He’s certainly right about a shift in emphasis; the earlier sonatas may have their flashes of evocative beauty, but they’re far more prevalent—even dominant—here. Still, those looking for dazzle won’t be entirely disappointed, either—especially in the final pages of the Presto finale. Even if you already own the Harvey CD, then, you’ll probably want this one, too. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 1 by Carl Vine
Performer:  Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; Australia 
Sonata for Piano no 2 by Carl Vine
Performer:  Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Australia 
Sonata for Piano no 3 by Carl Vine
Performer:  Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2007 
The Anne Landa Preludes by Carl Vine
Performer:  Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006; Australia 

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