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Briefly Noted: Planès Plays Bartók

available at Amazon
Bartók, Piano Pieces, A. Planès

(released on May 13, 2014)
HMC 902163 | 78'42"
Alain Planès plays the music of so many composers so well, including the Haydn, Debussy, and Scarlatti we have heard over the years. A formidable technician with a painterly sense of color, he excels in vignettes rather than long forms, so it is little surprise that he produces beguiling results in this set of mostly miniatures by Bartók. On disc, some of these pieces have largely been the domain of Hungarian pianists, who almost certainly started playing the composer's works as children. In addition to the widely recorded piano sonata (SZ 80), here pleasingly bouncy and bluesy rather than overly biting, Planès gives the listener a sort of tour of Bartók's transcription and adaptation of folk melodies. This includes four songs from the Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs (SZ 71) and all six of the slender Romanian Folk Dances (SZ 56), two sets that show Bartók's affinity for the folk music of both countries. (As the Transylvanian village where Bartók was born was on the border, it actually became part of Romania in the aftermath of World War I.) The Dance Suite (SZ 77) and the relatively rare set of Fourteen Bagatelles (SZ 38) round out the program, with each short movement given a ravishing suavity of touch and melodic phrasing. If you have never fancied Bartók's keyboard music, give it a spin.

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