Notes and Editorial Reviews
The only reservation that attaches to this excellent complete survey of Ernesto Halffter's piano music lies in a certain sameness that naturally colors a disc containing nearly 80 minutes of mostly short piano works. Halffter's musical influences are clear: Falla, Ravel, and in the two single-movement sonatas, Scarlatti. You can hear Falla's influence most clearly in the two delightful dances from the ballet Sonatina (the complete work has been recorded by ASV). Ravel (of Miroirs fame) makes an appearance in the haunting triptych entitled Crepúsculos, particularly the first ("The Castle's Old Clock"). Like Falla, Halffter also composed a set of Hommages, in this case paying gentle tribute to the memories of Turina, Mompou, and his own brother Rodolfo. Elsewhere, as in the spiky Marche joyeuse, or the poignant Lament for Ricardo Viñes, a more personal idiom emerges, demonstrating that the derivative quality of much of the music stems quite reasonably from its intentional references to the music and musicians that the composer loved most.
Adam Kent has made a careful study of these works, and he plays them with the confidence that comes with familiarity. He's especially good at creating a solid rhythmic foundation with his left hand while allowing the right the necessary freedom to gracefully phrase Halffter's winsome melodies. This quality pays handsome dividends not just in the numerous dance-inspired pieces such as Preludio y danza, Dos piezas cubanas, and L'espagnolade, but in the thicker-textured sonatas as well. Bridge gives Kent warm and clear recorded sound, perhaps a shade lacking in sparkle in the piano's upper octaves, though this seems to be more a quality of the instrument itself. Like so many Spanish composers, Halffter composed comparatively little, but always with a high standard of craftsmanship. You may not want to play this entire disc at a sitting, but wherever and whenever you dip into it, you're likely to find a gem, and happily Kent's performances are as consistently polished as the music itself.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com