Notes and Editorial Reviews
Theme and Variations. Piano Sonata
. Evolving Cycle of Two-Part Modal Inventions.
Essay in Sound
Stephen Gosling (pn)
RAVELLO 7878 (45:24)
Live: New York 2002
A DVD of Gheoghe Costinescu’s music made Robert Carl’s Want List in 2012 and, listening to this disc of piano music, it is easy to hear why he was impressed. Costinescu studied with both Stockhausen (Cologne) and Berio (Juilliard, New York).
The earliest work here is the Theme and Variations of 1956, a work written while he was a member of the composition class at the Bucharest Conservatory. There are 14 variations on a stately theme (the booklet notes refer to it, correctly, as “chorale-like”). The performance is frequently delightful. There are clear Baroque gestures, smoothly integrated into Costinescu’s rather angular language. Gosling is a fine advocate: His technique never in doubt and his grasp of Costinescu’s contrasts (of harmony as much as dynamics) solid.
The 1957 Sonata is heard here in its 2007–08 revision. (The composer’s own booklet notes refer to it as a recomposition.) Costinescu recorded the work for broadcast in Romania in 1957, and the work apparently has not been performed in public since then. There seems to be something of a Hindemith edge to the first movement, while there is a Webernian element to the disjunct lines of both the second and third movements (although Costinescu is not quite as acerbic as that composer). The Finale in particular is accorded a great performance, playful and dynamic. The
Evolving Cycle of Two-Part Modal Inventions
(1964) brought the Bartók of the earlier parts of
to mind. As way of introduction, Costinescu presents a “one-part invention” before arriving at three groups of pairs of two-part inventions. The use of intervals develops as the piece progresses, initially from modal through to serial-modal. The sudden scurrying excitement after the six-minute mark is eloquently done by Gosling. Costinescu’s stated intent is to explore Romanian folk music through the medium of the Baroque two-part invention, a fascinating notion that he brings off well. The piece moves towards a tremendous, virtuoso climax, perfectly delivered here.
Finally comes the
Essay in Sound
of 2011, dedicated to the present performer (who premiered it in New York that year). Explosive, Modernist and gestural, angular and unrelenting, this seems the logical climax to the recital. Again, Gosling is able to find just the right delivery. The ending is particularly impressive and haunting. A disc well worth investigating, despite the short playing time.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke