A Dreamland of Nocturnes
By Kara Dahl Russell
Dr. Michael Landrum won first prize in the J.S. Bach International Competition for Pianists in Washington D.C. in 1976. A native of Augusta Georgia, his musical career as a student and teacher has taken him all over the United States. He presented a Nocturnes lecture and recital at Columbia Artists Management Hall in NYC in 2005. Recorded in 2000 and now just released in 2012, this CD presents this special vision and clarity with magnificent variety unexpected while focusing on one genre.
Nocturnes have a special place in piano repertoire. They not only evoke the dark of night, but the call of the heart, and have a unique ability to shade and share the emotional life of the artist performing them. Chopin famously made them a cornerstone of his works, but, as this set displays, a great number of great composers have been drawn to this genre of starlight and shadow, loss and hope. If you don't find MANY pieces here that speak to you, to hear again and again, it is fairly easy to say that you just aren't a fan of piano music.
I found an old friend here... years ago I heard a synthesized electronic version of a sparkling work that was very moving. It is one of these nocturnes (from Ottorino Respighi's 6 pieces for piano), given back to me now in a gift of a clear and moving piano performance. There are works here by Chopin, of course, one very predictable, the other rarely performed, along with night pieces by Bizet, Francaix, Sibelius, Alkan, Satie, Poulenc, Borodin, Menotti, Copeland, Debussy, Faure, and Grieg.