On his enterprising new recording label, Matthew Trusler follows up his fine accounts of the Janáˇcek, Elgar and Debussy sonatas with a recital of blues-saturated miniatures accompanied by celebrated master of the idiom, Wayne Marshall (who also contributes a two-minute solo Improvisation guaranteed to get your feet tapping).
This at times electrifying recital is book-ended by Jascha Heifetz’s celebrated arrangements of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Suite and the three solo piano Preludes. It’s usually almost impossible to listen to these fabulous pieces without having Heifetz’s unique sound world ringing in one’s ears. Yet Trusler’s Grappelli-like nonchalant asides (try the ‘Tempo di Blues’), quicksilver portamentos, fabulous agility and genuine ‘cool’ are such as to have one almost forgetting the Master altogether.
The renegade George Antheil lets his hair down in typically eclectic style with his Second Sonata – a bit like Charles Ives on speed – and here Trusler and Marshall pull out all the stops, relishing the wild hysteria of Antheil’s quick-fire stylistic gear-changes. No wonder Antheil claimed to take a gun on stage with him in order to stave off the storms of protest that invariably erupted following his appearances.
By way of contrast Trusler includes a couple of Joplin favourites – Elite Syncopations and Ragtime Dance – which exchanges the laid-back glow of the arranger’s (Itzhak Perlman) famous EMI recording with a fizzing, edge-of-the-seat vitality guaranteed to alleviate even the sternest of countenances. Ravel’s ‘Blues’ (the central movement of the 1927 Sonata) also sounds deliciously smoky and decadent. An outstanding collection, immaculately and imposingly engineered.
From the January 2007 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.