Elena Riu - Piano Icons for the 21st Century -

Here is another definitive recording, offering the recorded premiere of John Taverner's (b. 1946) Ypakoe. Taverner was so taken by Elena Riu's artistry, that he wrote this, his first major solo work for piano in over twenty years, expressly for her. It received its premiere in her hands during the 1999 City of London Festival, three months after this CD was recorded.
All the works on this disc are captured in stunning sound. Linn has chosen to create a floating, suspended, highly resonant soundstage, perfectly suited for the spiritual and transcendent components of these compositions by Taverner, Arvo Part (b. 1935 - Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinushka), Peter Sculthorpe (b. 1929 - Djilile, Singing Sun (from A Little Book of Hours), and Night Pieces)); Leos Janacek (1854-1928 - In the Mists), and Federico Mompou (1893-1987 - Charmes). If every piano recording sounded this full and rich, how happy audiophiles would be.

To use the words printed in the liner notes, "Elena Riu is a Hispano-American who makes her artistic home in Britain." Artistic director of the South Bank Centre's Spanish Plus series, she is a leading exponent of the Spanish piano repertoire. Riu gave the Mompou Centenary Concert at London's famed Wigmore Hall, and gave gala performances for Manuel de Falla's anniversary with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Shown in a yoga posture on the inside of the liner notes, she is clearly at home with the eclectic spirituality of the compositions chosen for this recording.

Any disc that opens with a work by Arvo Part frequently finds its way to a special place in my heart. Part's unique "tintinnabuli" compositional technique exploits the bell-like characteristics of the notes of the simple triad. As he has explained, "I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements...I build with the most primitive materials - with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation."

Mompou's simple works express their spirituality through different, but equally simple means. John Taverner has yet to touch me; I find his spirituality more pretentious than substantive, but that is certainly an individual opinion. The other unique compositions on this disc, and their relevance to your life, I shall leave for you to explore. This recording has definitely found a permanent place on my shelf. Highly recommended.
03 April 2000