L‘Oiseau rebelle: Contemporary Piano Music from Orléans

L‘Oiseau rebelle: Contemporary Piano Music from Orléans

L’Oiseau Rebelle Music by Langgaard, Bertrand, Lourié, Stockhausen, Kabalevsky, Xenakis, C. P. E. Bach, Cardew, Rossini, Terentyev, C. Schumann and Cage plus Snoop Dogg. Mikhaïl Bouzine (piano). B RECORDS LBM 037 78 mins

This is one of a series of discs released by prize-winners to the Orléans Festival of contemporary piano music. Other winners include Maroussia Gentet (a splendid programme including music by Marco Stroppa, Ravel, Alex Nante, Jolivet and Philippe Schoeller).

The ‘programme’ is ingeniously split into an opening introduction from Snoop Dogg (You Betta Ask Somebody), a Prologue (Langgaard’s 1949 Le Béguinage), Act 1 (Bertrand, Laurié, Stockhausen's Klavierstück VIII, Kabalevsky and Xenakis Evryali), Act 2 (C.  P. E. Bach, Cardew’s The Croppy Boy, Rossini), Act 3 (Cardew Three Winter Potatoes), Act 4 (Igor Terenyev and Clara Schumann) and an Epilogue (Cage’s Homage to the Temple of the Golden Pavilion).

Here's B Records‘ rather characterful video introduction to the disc:

The video ingenious, it’s fun, its enlightening and most of all we’re in the hands of a master pieniast who truly understands this music. The wit of Snoop Dogg invites us into a programme centred around Cardew’s 1965 Three Winter Potatoes; a similarity between Cardew’s name and Carmen, and ideas of revolurion and songs of the common man poured forth from Cardew's imagination. Bouzine is very attracted to Ruud Langgaard’s music (he immediately spent some of his prize money on a collected edition of Langgaard’s piano music). Langgaard’s Le Béguinage (1948/8; ‘business,' but with a slightly derogatory connotation) is full of sweet ironies in its sequence of dances, sort of post-Prokofiev in gesture as well as sarcasm. The carillon of the fourth piece is particularly effective; this is nearly 17 minutes long as a piece and truly gives an insight into Langgaard’s particular genius.

Here's a Langgaard extra from Bouzine, not on the disc: the short Rothblühender Dorn, recorded in Nürnberg:

The jerky strains of Christophe Bertrand’s 2008 Haiku opens Act 1 (the marking is ‘leggierissimo, convulsivo, molto nervoso’), with Bouzine’s lightness of touch so even: teasing, even. The title references Messiaen’s Sept Haiku. Again, there is a bell-inference (‘quasi campane,’ in the third section). The harmonic softness of Arthur Lourié's A Phoenix Park Nocturne (1938) comes in high relief (it was published alongside a 1936 Berceuse) and offers great contrast, but this is a fine, variegated work in its own right, and Bouzine uses a huge variety of touch.

Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke should be core repertoire by now. Klavierstück VIII (1958) is tiny, a dialogue polyphony engages in dialogue with short, punctuating chords. With its grace-chord ideas, this is a piece that succeeds via its concision, and Bouzine is superb – I would like to hear a complete set from him. Daring to contrast this with a child-like piece from Kabalevsky (Clowns) before Xenakis’ glorious Evryali, full of dancing beauty in this performance (but with the clarity of Claude Helffter). The Second “act” finds C. P E. Bach’s D-Minor character piece La Stahl (W117/25/H94) in direct contradiction to Xenakis, but in the modernity of its gestures fit perfectly into the album's ethos; Cardew’s 1963 The Croppy Boy fits perfectly (‘Croppy’ = rebel), which could almost be a 20th-century unmeasured prelude. The inclusion of Rossini is inspired: the playful Mon prélude hygeinique du main is the perfect end to the second act, its nostalgic vein perfectly projected by Bouzine.

The lonely spaces of Act 3 accords Cardew’s Winter Potatoes its due: by standing alone, we focus, and hear Cardew’s stuttering, hyper-beautful invention at its finest. The final act contains a reading of a tract by Igor Terentyev, V vostorge ot moyego pocherka (Delighted with my handwriting), a spoken text (in Russian) prior to Clara Schumann’s glorious post-Bach Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor, itself before Cage’s silence draws us into reflection 0”00 is also known as 4’33 No. 2. I’ll leave that for you to discover ...

.. and here's an article on the Cage from James Pritchett's blog, The Piano in my Life.

In addition, here's Bouzine's complete 2020 semi-finals recital at Orléans. Programme as follows:

Iannis Xenakis: Evryali (0:24 - 11:18)

Alexander Gretchaninov: Album de Nina, op. 141: No.  5. Marche (11:18 - 13:15)

Edison Denisov: Signes en Blanc (13:23 - 25:55)

Olga Neuwirth: Incidendo / fluido (26:09 - 37:49)

Sergei Bortkiewicz: Lamentations et Consolations op. 17: No. 3, Lamentation (38:05 - 41:32)

Pascal Dusapin: Piano Works : Pièce No. 3, "Black Letters" (41:39 - 50:17)

Isang Yun: Shao Yang Yin (50:21 - 57:04)

Disc available from B-Records