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MUSIC Album reviews

Latest releases from Marian Sawa, Imants Zemzaris and Param Vir

Marian Sawa
Music for Organ
(Divine Art Recordings Group)

★★★

FOR the late composer Marian Sawa, the organ was not only vital for his performing but also for his compositions, where they constitute a large core of his overall output.

This dedicated CD from Divine Art Recordings not only shows a composer with a natural knack and ear for the organ as instrument but also his development and exploration over a 30-year period.

Religious and Polish themes make a significant appearance throughout, with the Fantasia Jasnorgorska based entirely around the ancient Polish hymn. Throughout, Carson Cooman demonstrates his talents with the organ and there is the sense that the composer would have admired the dedication Cooman has placed into producing such a strong rendition of his multiple works.

For anyone wanting something unique, there are many musical surprises to be found at Sawa’s door.

Imants Zemzaris
Eine Andere Wanderer-Fantasie
(SKANi)

★★★★

IMANTS ZEMZARIS cut his musical teeth inside the Soviet avant garde and, in a similar way to English experimentalist Cornelius Cardew, rejected “high modernity” and tried to find a simpler way of being musical.

As the composer reaches his 70th birthday this dedicated album, featuring works for piano, includes his second piano sonata. Placed alongside the numerous preludes and interludes, it shows how the crystal-clear music is masterfully adapted for any theme or idea, be it late summers, Shakespearean sonnets or a bright early morning.

Zemzaris has had a personal fascination for me for a long time and this, a treat of a new release, could interest those eager to broaden their pool of composers. He is well worth investigating and the particularly skilful playing of Diana Zandberga makes this album especially worth adding to any collection.

Param Vir
Wheeling Past the Stars
(NMC)

★★★★★

PARAM VIR is a composer who has often just been on the outskirts of British contemporary music and this new release from NMC gives proof that there should be a genuine evaluation of his music and the themes and ideas he brings to it.

Raga Fields for sarod and chamber orchestra is a masterful work that only Param Vir could really achieve and the cosmopolitan way in which he draws on music from his native India and combines them with ideas from across the globe is handled with such due care and consideration that he never drifts into eclecticism but brings a wonderful humanism to all the ideas and
concerns.

Elegant soprano Patricia Auchterlonie, a true artist, treats Param Vir’s settings like any of the older masters and the final work Hiyagriva fizzes with incredible energy and colour.

BEN LUNN

 

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