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Paul Cook

"This disc continues Marco Polo's tasteful chronicle of Argentinean composer Alberto Williams' music for solo piano. As in volume one, this selection collects several graceful waltzes and perky mazurkas (always a pleasure to listen to). But the standouts on this release are the extended pieces: Poem of the Bells (1912), Poem of the Ravine (1920), and Poem of the Valley (1920). Poem of the Bells may remind you of Rachmaninov's choral symphony, The Bells, but its opening sequences hark back even further to Mussorgsky. The main influence on these extended tone poems for piano, however, sounds like it comes from Ravel, but this doesn't mean that Williams' music derives entirely from European modes. Poem of the Ravine and Poem of the Valley clearly display their Argentinean character, incorporating subtle folk motifs and songs from the pampas. Pianist Valentin Surif plays these works with obvious affection, and his attention to detail brings out their special flavor, particularly in the vivacious Poem of the Valley. Recommended for all fans of offbeat solo piano works in the Romantic mode."

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