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Dip Your Ears No. 230 (Leo Ornstein's Heterogeneous Box of Chocolates)

available at Amazon
Leo Ornstein, Piano Music vol.2
Arsentiy Kharitonov
Toccata Classics

A Russian, born in the Ukraine, the prodigious composer-pianist Leo Ornstein (~1893-2002) immigrated with his family to the US where he arrived, in New York, in 1906. His music is a heterogeneous mix that can remind of anything between Antheil, Scriabin, Messiaen, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, even Kapustin: An eclectic array of styles of which this disc of his piano music, however, only shows Ornstein at his most well-behaved. A Morning in the Woods (1971, “A/B its lacey melodic threads and gentle chord voicings against Chick Corea’s rhapsodic solo improvisations.” - Jed Distler), his collected Waltzes (covering an hour's worth of music composed between 1958 and 1980), and the early Suite Russe (1914) make for an easy introduction to the composer.

One of his Waltzes (“Allegro con moto ed bravura”) breaks out of brilliant bar-pianism pleasantry and hints at waters running deep and fast. His international idiom, which may strike an American, French, and Russian inflection on occasion, but never ostentatiously so, may lull one into supposing that this is inauspicious stuff. Not so: The Pianist Arsentiy Kharitonov turns it into great music—or at least something pretty close to it. It will make you want to explore the first volume of this series and hope for a third.

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