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William Blank (b.1957): 'Reflecting Black' - Works for Piano & Orchestra / David Lively, piano; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Rophé

Notes & Reviews:

Here, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Pascal Rophé, with whom the æon label has collaborated since 2003, give us a very fine William Blank monograph, the fruit of the orchestra's sustained work with this essential representative of Swiss creation, alongside his elder Heinz Holliger and his contemporary Michael Jarrell. Born in 1957 in Montreux, William Blank, composer and conductor, is performed the world over. With him, there are no (or few) evanescent layers, aleatoric or improvised passages. Rather, there is a sort of pointillism with a human face, a maniacal love of small detail behind which emotion is flushed out by harsh, searing intensity or dense outpourings. The works on this program are representative of the recent evolution in his work, especially the piano concerto, Reflecting Black, written in homage to the painter Pierre Soulages and magnificently served in this recording by pianist David Lively.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
William Blank gives us a fine set of three orchestral pieces from the last 15 years. The two works for large orchestra, Ebbe(n) (2000) and Exodes (2003) - my favorite - are both about 15 minutes long and good examples of the composer's style. His emphasis is on the sounds and timbres of the orchestra, whether big and noisy or smooth and subtle. At its most bombastic, Blank still uses the orchestra with discretion. And at its quietest, there is always a sense of potential energy. On Reflecting Black (2009), for piano and orchestra, the composer writes about his interest in color, contrast, and illumination. This interest in the visual serves as a useful cue to understanding his music. There is a finely tuned balance of timbre. Harmony, melody, rhythm, and meter are subservient musical boundaries here, making way for sheer sound. This is all well done.


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