Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Piano Music by Estonia's Heino Eller, 18 May 2013
This review is from: Eller: Complete Piano Music Vol. 3 [Sten Lassmann] [Toccata Classics: TOCC 0161] (Audio CD)
As the foremost Estonian composer of his era, Heino Eller (1887-1970) is revered in his country. To those of us from elsewhere he is probably best known as the teacher of Arvo Pärt, the current leading light of Estonian music. Thanks to critic turned music entrepreneur Martin Anderson, the founder of Toccata Classics, we are now getting a slew of recordings of music from the Baltic states and discovering some laudable works. This is the third in a series of CDs -- there will be eight -- of Eller's complete works for piano, all played by Estonian pianist Sten Lassmann, an artist in his early thirties.

On this disc are works from what are roughly Eller's early, middle and late periods, including Three Studies (1917-1919), Five Préludes (1929-1930), Ten Lyric Pieces (1942-1943) and his Fourth Piano Sonata (1957-1958).

In their order on the CD:

The Ten Lyric Pieces, formally inspired by Grieg's Lyric Pieces, are mostly somber, even melancholy, pieces written in the period immediately after Eller's Jewish first wife was taken by the SS and a few months later executed. The music here is, in the main, gripping, heart-rending. Interestingly there is a seemingly inappropriate mazurka-like piece, No. 8, which however is secretly apt as a Chopin mazurka was one of the last pieces Eller heard his wife, a pianist, play. The last, and longest, Lyric Piece is a set of variations ending in a quadruple fugue.

The early Three Studies are rather more lyrical than the Lyrical Pieces, sounding to some extent like Grieg or Christian Sinding. Most effective is the third one, in G Flat Major, which has ceaseless sixteenth notes throughout. The second study, also in G Flat, is brief and somewhat jocular. The first, in A Flat Major, is na´vely pastoral, describing dawn with the rising of a brilliant sun.

The Five Préludes are considerably more spare than the Studies, even cryptic in style. Almost diffident, only one of them even has a key signature or easily discernible pulse. There is an underlying angst in all of them.

The Piano Sonata No. 4, Eller's last, was written in the late 1950s after the composer had gone through the 'Social Realism', 'anti-Formalist' phase in Soviet music during which he had to conform to cultural czar Andrei Zhdanov's edicts about what kind of music was allowed. Modern-sounding without being atonal, the three-movement sonata is somewhat neoclassic, with a first movement in modified sonata-allegro form. The second movement is contemplative, musing, often lyrical. It leads without pause into the vivo finale, a rondo whose themes are graceful, lilting, and light-hearted until sforzando chordal passages lead to a dramatic coda on a pedal point, what the booklet writer, the pianist Sten Lassmann, calls a 'tragic outcry'.

Many of the pieces here are receiving their first recordings. Sten Lassmann is a fine pianist doing a major service to the memory of a composer whose music deserves to be heard.

Scott Morrison
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2013 10:23:16 BDT
Great review ... the back of the disc claims that this is one of a series of eight discs, not seven though. Do you know different? Not a criticism, just interested ...

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2013 12:07:29 BDT
No. It was my mistake. Thanks for catching it. I'll change it to eight in my review.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)
5 star:    (0)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer

J Scott Morrison
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Middlebury VT, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 183