BBC Music Magazine

Bernhard Gander • Ives


Gander: Peter Parker; Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1; Three-page Sonata Joonas Ahonen (piano, celesta)

BIS BIS-2409 (CD/SACD) 61:27 mins Having already scaled the peaks of Charles Ives’s Second Piano Sonata, the Concord, for BIS, the Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen has now turned with matching clarity to its equally tumultuous, if less transcende­ntal, sibling.

The analytical booklet note downplays Ives’s notion of a musical kaleidosco­pe constructe­d from memories of late-19th-century daily life in Connecticu­t farming villages, though the sleeve note for its first recording by William Masselos in 1953 offered specifics in the composer’s own words, from barn dances and ‘town band quick-steps’ to a father’s jubilation at a school baseball game. A related impersonal air hangs over Ahonen’s performanc­e. It’s crisp and clean in the mightiest of the music’s tangles and brilliant as a technical feat, but I couldn’t help missing the heady excitement­s and sense of danger in Masselos’s two recordings. There is something special, though, about Ahonen’s handling of the Threepage Sonata, and it’s mostly the sound of a celesta (also played by Ahonen), used to colour the bell timbres suggested in one of the quieter sections’ top lines. Also memorable is this pungent work’s final long reverberat­ion into silence.

The album’s filler, Peter Parker, from the 52-year-old Austrian composer Bernhard Gander, initially suggests the crazy jolting rhythms of Conlon Nancarrow’s player-piano studies; but without wit, brevity and personalit­y, the work quickly becomes a dry irritant. The title and booklet comments indicate the inspiratio­n Gander found in Marvel Comics’ Spider-man mythology. It’s apparent nowhere else. Geoff Brown PERFORMANC­E ★★★ RECORDING ★★★★

 ??  ?? Thoughtful programmer: Alexander Soares plays Bridge, Britten and Berg
Thoughtful programmer: Alexander Soares plays Bridge, Britten and Berg
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