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Eliane Reyes takes a different view and her performances are memorably refined, dextrous and committed

March 2011 Gramophone, Bryce Morisson

The piano music of a Pole in Paris coloured by wartime conditions

Time was when only the merest fraction of music was available on record. Today the situation could hardly be more different. Every nook and cranny is offered up for scrutiny, and so it is that Eliane Reyes, a young and wonderfully gifted pianist, gives us a world premiere recording of Alexandre Tansman’s 24 Intermezzos and Petite Suite and, as an accessible encore, the Valse-Impromptu.

The first two of the four books of the Intermezzos (1939–40) were composed in Paris, their mood dictated by dispiriting wartime conditions and reflecting a curious slant on Romanticism. Brief, fluid and exotic, they are alive with many unnerving twists of harmony and direction. Gérald Hugon’s long and scholarly notes suggest parallels with a wide selection of composers (en passant he mentions Brahms, Fauré, Chopin, Szymanowski, Bartók and Ravel), and yet it is difficult to feel that Tansman’s mercurial figurations are complemented by sufficient melodic distinction. The overall mood of all the Intermezzo is claustrophobic and introspective, and you will look in vain for much lightening of mood. The extensive lamentoso of Book 4 No 3 is, however, undeniably powerful, reflecting in its desolation something of Scriabin’s late and morbidly obsessive style. Elsewhere the writing, while outwardly varied, is too often confined within a narrow range of intervals. But Eliane Reyes takes a different view and her performances are memorably refined, dextrous and committed. She is excellently recorded and this is clearly a disc for explorers.