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Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, June 2017

The back cover insert for this CD indicates that Ponce’s Suite Bitonal explored “new compositional techniques, resulting in his own modernist style,” but this doesn’t quite prepare the listener for the actual music, which is extraordinarily playful. It’s almost as if Ponce decided to test the waters of bitonality but consciously chose to invent charming themes to set it to. Yes, the “Arietta” and “Sarabande” are rather Debussy-ish, but as we’ve seen Ponce already had a high regard for Debussy’s aesthetic, so that isn’t terribly surprising. In the last movement, marked “Gigue,” Ponce is back at his playful best.

As with so many collections of this type, then, it’s a bit of a mixed bag but full of some surprising goodies, well worth exploring. © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2017

This is the second release in a projected series of eight discs bringing together the solo piano music of the 20th century Mexican composer, Manuel Maria Ponce. He was essentially a miniaturist in this genre, creating highly attractive melodies that you could have heard in fashionable restaurants in the earlier part of the last century, even including those little flourishes that the performing pianist would always add. They would while away your time or prove a backdrop to intimate conversations, though do we need them preserving? Well this disc has just proved a relaxing morning, opening with a rather rambling Rapsodia Cubana. Maybe the sleeve has got the date of the work wrong, as his residency in that country did not begin until the year later in 1915, his time there drawing a number of works including the three movements of Suite Cubana, and the very brief pieces, Preludo Cubano and Cubana. That he was influenced by others comes in the tricksy Guateque which is pure Scott Joplin. That he would have wished to break away from these salon pieces comes in the 1927 Preludios Encadenados and the 1929 Quatre Pieces pour piano, otherwise known as Suite Bitonal. By then living in Paris, he was very obviously assimilating the teaching of Dukas, and we are now in the world of a serious classical composer. The Spanish pianist, Alvaro Cendoya, is a highly persuasive advocate of long forgotten music, so sit back and imagine you are in that Paris restaurant and enjoy it. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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