Leo Ornstein – Piano Quintet & String Quartet – Marc-Andre Hamelin, Pacifica Quartet (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:12:47 minutes | 1,28 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | Booklet, Front Cover | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: April 2014, Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
The young pianist-composer Leo Ornstein went from wowing the ladies with his virtuosity to writing a Violin Sonata in 1915 of such atonal violence that it frightened even him.
By the time of the two works recorded here his style was more rounded. The mix of enfant terrible and Lisztian piano-slayer is now tempered by an intense lyricism, the rhythmic energy balanced by searing poetry.
In the exhilarating hands of Marc-André Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet these performances fizz with exuberance. A real treat.
Having given us a solo Ornstein disc back in 2002 (10/02), Marc-André Hamelin here offers the hypertrophic Piano Quintet. Composed in 1927, by which time the Russian-born, American-resident maverick had got his wild oats well and truly out of his system (as in the pre-war Suicide in an Aeroplane), this is a glorious confection of Stravinsky, Ravel, Rachmaninov and East European folk idioms that almost makes up in enthusiasm what it so conspicuously lacks in discipline. Evidently counterpoint was on the list of theoretical subjects Ornstein had no time for. As a result, when he adds super-luxuriant harmonies and pianistic cascades to the mix, he merely reinforces the impression of a massively talented student rather than a mature composer (for a counter-example, compare the similarly monumental but far more carefully crafted Taneyev Quintet). Pianistically Hamelin has a considerable edge over his fellow Ornsteinian Janet Weber, as does Hyperion’s recording quality over the boominess of its New World rival.
In the Quintet’s world of elementary melody and accompaniment, amplified by virtuoso texture and spiced by additive-rhythm ostinato, the piano is king. The Pacifica Quartet have more chance to show their mettle in the less extravagant Second String Quartet, probably composed shortly after the Quintet (most Ornstein dates are more or less conjectural). Once again, the influence of Ravel is to the fore, and once again the comparison shows up Ornstein’s essential naivety—an engaging or frustrating quality, according to taste. Both pieces are excellent examples of how far a composer can go on intuition, energy and talent alone, which is to say a good deal further than those lacking such qualities but nowhere near as far as those who take the trouble to learn their craft thoroughly. –David Fanning, Gramophone
Leo Ornstein (1893-2002)
Piano Quintet Op 92
1 Allegro barbaro[14’45]
2 Andante lamentoso[11’14]
3 Allegro agitato[14’05]
String Quartet No 2 Op 99
4 Moderato ma animato[14’21]
5 Lento malincolio[8’22]
6 Presto con fuoco[10’00]
Marc-André Hamelin, Piano #1-3
Simin Ganatra, Violin
Sibbi Bernhardsson, Violin
Masumi Per Rostad, Viola
Brandon Vamos, Cello