Roger Sessions/ Donald Martino

Composer(s): Roger Sessions, Donald Martino
Album Title: Piano Sonata No. 2/ Piano Sonata No. 3/ Fantasies and Impromptus 
Cat. No.: 80546
Genre: Classical
Description: Roger Sessions: Piano Sonata Nos. 2 & 3;
Donald Martino: Fantasies and Impromptus

Randall Hodgkinson, Robert Helps-piano

Three important keyboard works by two of the key figures of American music of this century are coupled in this collection. All three works occupy key positions in the canon of their respective composers.

The things that can be said about all of
Roger Sessions’s music are especially true of the single-movement Piano Sonata No. 2-it is full of proliferating invention, densely contrapuntal textures, and highly elastic rhythms and phrase structures; and a long, unfurling melodic line stretches from the beginning of the piece to the end. Piano Sonata No. 3 is in the traditional three-movement format, except that the typical classical format is reversed-two somewhat subdued slow movements surround a fiery scherzo. The third movement, “In memoriam: November 22, 1963,” was composed as an elegy for John F. Kennedy.

In Donald Martino’s Fantasies and Impromptus, six short impromptus are framed by three longer fantasies, which begin and end the work and stand at its center. The pieces embrace the widest diversity of texture and range, character and emotion. Perhaps the key word among many that might describe this music is “Omaggio,” the title Martino has given to the symmetrically placed, and lusciously romantic, fifth and seventh impromptus. There is a sense in which all the fantasies and impromptus form a completely contemporary “homage” to the forms of Romantic piano music and to the poetry of its many moods. The work is full of Schumannesque impetuousness, pearly Lisztian cadenzas, and Chopinesque melancholy. 
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