ROGER SESSIONS (1896-1985): Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 and 3, RALPH SHAPEY (1921-2002): Mutations, Mutations II, 21 Variations.
Catalogue Number: 01J070
Description: These important piano works from the respective outputs of two composers who also composed in a wide range of other genres enable intriguing comparisons and contrasts. Sessions' first sonata neatly encapsulates his passage from almost neoclassical tonality to frank atonality, while the third is dodecaphonic and atonal. Shapey's music is serial in some sense or another throughout, and overall more consistently dissonant. There are some striking similarities in the way both composers employ separate and contrasting, metrically independent lines in relatively simple counterpoint; although complex this music is worlds away from complexicist. Both composer's works are very tightly structured; Shapey's variations - these are all are variation sets according to his own harmonic and pitch-organizational rules, instantly recognizable as such for all their modern idiom- are clearly defined, each variation having its own character. Extended sections of Shapey's works have a liturgical sense of suspended time, contrasting abruptly with the violent dissonant outbursts of other variations. For all their fierce adherence to supposedly abstract 20th-century methods, neither composer comes over as remotely unapproachable, let alone unapproachably remote, and the emotional content of their works is undeniable. David Holtzman (piano).