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Disc review: Janice Weber, Seascapes

Classical

Janice Weber

Seascapes

[Sono Luminus]

Three stars

I loved this collection of 20 virtuosic piano salon pieces celebrating the sea. It is a pleasure just to hear names like Felix Blumenfeld and Emil von Sauer (he was a student of Liszt, and his “Flammes de mer,” which sounds tremendously demanding, is one of the delights of the disc). “Jeu des Ondes” by Theodor Leschitizsky, when do you ever get to hear that? And there is the weirdly rippling “Sea-Marge,” by Cyril Scott, known in his era as “the English Debussy.” The eventful journey also includes music by Ernest Bloch, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Marcelle de Manziarly (whose “Par une journee grise,” with its nursery rhyme rhythms, conveys the hypnotic nature of the sea).

The disc ends with “Skye Variations” by the early 20th century Welsh crossover pianist Alec Templeton. It takes tremendous chops to carry off virtuosic salon music like this, and Weber has what it takes. Sometimes her playing could use more color and panache, but in general she captures the late Romantic feel of the music. And her liner notes make you want to know more about the composers, all of whom led fascinating lives.

One gripe, common to a lot of discs I see: Track numbers do not appear on the back cover, only inside the thick, unwieldy booklet. You go crazy flipping back and forth between inside cover, back cover and liner notes to find out what’s what. Track numbers, composers’ full names and the titles of the pieces should all be listed completely on the back cover. There’s room. You want to know what you’re hearing, it’s all so interesting.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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