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Fantasie Variations on Tales of Love

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  • Wagnerfete@aol.com
    The following review just appeared on the Internet site Classical Music Review; New Re-leases by Tony Gualtieri (www.msu.edu/user/gualtie3). Hope after you ve
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2000
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      The following review just appeared on the Internet site Classical
      Music Review; New Re-leases by Tony Gualtieri
      (www.msu.edu/user/gualtie3). Hope after you've read this wonderful
      review, you will want to post it on your site: Thank you.
      Charles Rutain

      Classical Music Review: New Releases

      Daniel Abrams - Fantasie Variations on Tales of Love.  Fantasie
      Variations on Richard Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde"; Chaconne on
      Dido's Lament from Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas"; Fantasia on
      Maria von Weber's "Der Freischutz".  Daniel Abrams, piano. 
      Music TM-100 (41'48).  Available from allclassicalmusic.com.
      Countless experts have filled reams of paper arguing that there is no
      such thing as a "singing tone" on the piano.  As a student of
      I know their reasoning is sound; however, as a music lover and
      sometime pianist, I remain unconvinced.  Some players can make the
      instrument sing, others cannot.  Daniel Abrams, from the evidence
      this CD, clearly has such a touch.
      In creating these operatic "fantasies," Abrams is reaching back to a
      tradition at least as old as Franz Liszt.  Yet while Liszt
      to reproduce the grandeur of opera, with clanging chords and
      breathtaking passages of high virtuosity, Abrams is aiming at
      something more intimate and, perhaps, more pianistic.  In form,
      Tristan Fantasie is a Theme and Variations; however, the music
      attempts to paraphrase the opera, moving from the Prelude to the
      Liebestod and taking in additional material from intervening sections
      of the opera.  Thus Abrams, like Wagner, blends motifs to create
      melodies as the piece moves through its variations.  Abrams does
      try to turn the piano into an orchestra, but rather resets the music
      as a work for piano.  Hence textures are light and never
      into sonic mud.  This also allows him to maintain a single dynamic
      flow throughout.  When the "Tristan Chord" finally resolves,
      for the first time plays fortissimo, giving the moment a strong and
      appropriate dramatic impact.
      The Chaconne is based on "Dido's Lament," the concluding aria from
      Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.  The work is stately and solemn, and
      form, variations over a repeated bass, is apt.  While Abrams uses
      harmony appropriate to the period, as he does in all three pieces, he
      eschews Baroque-style ornament, keeping the work from becoming a
      pastiche.  Der Freischutz, a more robust work, is given a looser
      treatment.  Themes from the work are woven into a fourteen-minute
      distillation, somewhat like the overture to a musical comedy.  Its
      lighter, more spirited piece than the previous works, with abrupt
      shifts of mood and a busier texture.
      Daniel Abrams made his New York debut at Town Hall in 1957.  He
      subsequently performed in venues throughout the world but gave up
      flying after he survived a crash landing whilst on tour in South
      America.  He taught at Goucher College and at Johns Hopkins, and
      now lives in Woodstock, New York.  He has a marvelous feel for the
      piano, a delicate but assured touch, and a freedom from virtuosic
      affectation.  He has recently completed a 45-minute paraphrase of
      Wagner's Ring cycle, which it is to be hoped will appear in a
      subsequent release.  The present disk is a splendid collection of
      affectionate responses to music of an earlier era and is highly
      [Because of its limited distribution, if you are interested in
      purchasing the disk, it is recommended that you contact the website
      listed above.] Tony Gualtieri

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      PLEASE NOTE; Daniel Abrams now lives in New York Ci
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