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Solitaires - French works for solo piano - Jehan Alain: Prelude (1935); Dutilleux: Piano Sonata; Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin; Messiaen: Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus / Kathryn Stott, piano

Album Summary

>Alain, Jehan : Prélude et fugue, for piano, JA 87a
>Dutilleux, Henri : Sonata for piano
>Ravel, Maurice : Le tombeau de Couperin
>Messiaen, Olivier : Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jésus
Performer Composers
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Notes & Reviews:

From the French piano literature of the first half of the 20th c. Kathryn Stott has selected four 'solitaires' - each work occupying a special place in its composer's uvre. Jehan Alain's brief Prelude (1935) is followed by Henri Dutilleux's only piano sonata (1948), written for and premiered by Geneviève Joy, the composer's wife. Dedications to friends of the composer killed in the first years of WWI mark Maurice Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin, his last work for piano solo. Closing the disc is Le baiser de l'Enfant-Jésus from Olivier Messiaen's monumental fresco Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus.

BBC Music Magazine, November 2015
In Le tombeau de Couperin, Kathryn Stott not only pays tribute to the Classical impulses behind the work but also honours its more powerful moments... [her] fingers are well up to the virtuosic demands of the Prelude and Toccata, as they are to those of the works by Dutilleux and Messiaen. She is particularly attentive to dynamics and chording, and her phrasing throughout is never less than convincing.

Gramophone Magazine, October 2015
Stott's staying power and prodigious colouristic resources help to impart unity and symphonic momentum throughout the difficult-to-sustain variation movement [of the Dutilleaux]... [in the Messaien she] takes her sweet time, allowing the trills and filigree to breathe and sparkle. Her glittering articulation of the rapid right-hand passagework differs from pianists who create a muted, disembodied effect.

American Record Guide, March/April 2016
Stott has put together a recital of 20th Century French piano music that is interesting, varied, and more than a little off the beaten track. Only the Ravel would be considered part of the standard piano repertoire, and even there I see more recordings of Miroirs, Gaspard de la Nuit, and Valses Nobles et Sentimentales than Tombeau. It is my favorite Ravel, and I have spent hundreds of hours working on it.

The Alain here is Jehan (1911-40). Born into a musical family, his life was cut short by the Germans. The big, 25-minute Dutilleux Sonata (1948) is also a new work for me. The piano writing is in the tradition of Faur and Ravel without overt influences. Her Ravel is lightly pedaled and very much in his neo-Baroque idiom. She has a beautiful sense of line that isn't obscured by all of the notes that often surround it. The program closes with the 15th of Messiaen's 20 Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus (1944). 'The Kiss of the Infant Jesus' is 13 minutes of pure Messiaen. There are bells, hints of bird songs, and even the vast reaches of the stars to be imagined in his music. The harmonic style is unique, and the work unfolds with stately assurance. Messiaen wrote in his preface, "I have sought here a mystical language of love, at once varied, powerful and tender, sometimes brutal in its colorful form." Stott brings out all of these aspects. This is a very special piano recital that will be returned to often.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Hallé St. Peters, Manchester, England (08/2014).



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Works Details

>Alain, Jehan : Prélude et fugue, for piano, JA 87a
  • Performer: Kathryn Stott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Dutilleux, Henri : Sonata for piano
  • Performer: Kathryn Stott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1947-1948

>Ravel, Maurice : Le tombeau de Couperin
  • Performer: Kathryn Stott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 24 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1914-1917

>Messiaen, Olivier : Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jésus :: XV. Le baiser de l'Enfant-Jésus
  • Performer: Kathryn Stott (Piano)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1944