Ernest Bloch : Scherzo Fantasque for Piano and Orchestra [10:46]
Bela Bartók : Rhapsodie pour piano et orchestre [21:20]
Michael Easton : "A Voice Not Stilled", Sinfonia Concertante for piano and orchestra on themes by Gabriella Kolliner
A Voice Not Stilled is the title of a Sinfonia Concertante for piano and orchestra by Michael Easton. It is also the title of the most recent disc by Toronto pianist Mary Kenedi which features a live recording of the European premiere of the work. Extensive liner notes tell the story of this programmatic composition, based on a melody written by a victim of the Holocaust, Gabriella Kolliner, as remembered by her survivor brother many years after her death and transcribed by a nephew who never knew her. Young Peter Kolliner hoped to one day compose a set of piano variations on “Gabi’s Theme” to honour his aunt, but later met Easton, a celebrated British-Australian composer, who was moved by the story and asked permission to use the theme himself. What he created was an extended homage to the composer-turned-doctor who perished at Auschwitz, integrating the theme in a number of dramatic and moving ways in the course of the four movements of the work: In the Beginning, Flight into Darkness, Music in the Silence of the Night and A Voice Not Stilled. “Gabi’s theme” is not the only musical reference here. The second movement incorporates the Jewish prayer Kol Nidre in a clarinet solo and the third movement makes very effective use of a hauntingly beautiful line from Schumann’s Piano Quartet with “Gabi’s Theme” interwoven as a counter melody. The final movement, which begins in calm reminiscent of a Grieg sunrise, gradually builds to ecstatic runs in the piano over rising orchestral accompaniment and then ends quietly, poignantly without a final cadence, after a number of iterations by the piano of the signature theme. Kenedi is in fine form in this live performance which was greeted by a standing ovation at the House of Culture in Teplice, in the Czech Republic on April 21, 2005 and the North Czech Philharmonic shines under the baton of Charles Olivieri-Munroe.