Saturday, 10 October 2015

Terry Eder’s new recording of piano works by Bartók for MSR Classics shows a thorough absorption of Bartok’s idiom making these performances very fine indeed

Pianist Terry Eder was born in Detroit of Eastern European heritage. She showed a prodigious early talent and at the age of 16 was awarded the Louise Smith Petersen Memorial Award and solo recital at the Detroit Art Institute. She was a finalist in the Detroit Piano Technician’s Guild/Detroit Symphony concerto competition.

Terry Eder studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University School of Music and, after earning her Master of Music with Distinction, won a research grant from the International Research and Exchanges Board that sponsored her year-long residency at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. There Terry Eder specialised in twentieth century piano music by Hungarian composers, working under the tutelage of Zoltán Kocsis. She went on to win the top Bartók prize in the 2008 IBLA Grand Prize and Bartók-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev competitions.

She made her New York solo recital début in 2004 at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and was later given the Artists International Outstanding Alumni Award and Distinguished Alumni-Winners Award resulting in her Lincoln Center recital debut at Alice Tully Hall in 2006 and a recital at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall in 2008. She has been recognized for her outstanding performances of Beethoven and Ravel, including prizes awarded in Germany for Beethoven performances and a Ravel special mention at the 2008 IBLA Grand Prize Competition in Sicily. Terry Eder teaches in her independent studio in Manhattan.

MSR Classics has just released Terry Eder’s new recording of piano works by Bela Bartók (1881-1945) ranging from his early Op.6 Bagatelles to Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm from Mikrokosmos.

MS 1410
It is with the Fourteen Bagatelles, Op. 6, SZ.38 (1908; Rev. 1945) that Terry Eder opens her recital. Bagatelle No.1: Molto sostenuto has a well laid out, thoughtful opening with Bartok’s subtle dissonances creeping in before bringing well controlled tempi and dynamics in Bagatelle No. 2: Allegro giocoso. Bagatelle No. 3: Andante has a fine flow as a repeated rippling motif is overlaid by the melody whereas Bagatelle No. 4: Grave brings broad, firm chords before leading to a more thoughtful moment with the firm chords still occasionally appearing, together with discords.

There is a light, nicely sprung Bagatelle No. 5: Vivo and a Bagatelle No. 6: Lento to which this pianist brings a restrained melancholy depth. She handles the varying tempi Bagatelle No. 7: Allegretto molto capriccioso beautifully with lovely phrasing and a lovely touch in the coda. Bagatelle No. 8: Andante sostenuto again has the phrasing and subtle little dissonances beautifully done.

There are some fine rhythmic phrases in the Bagatelle No. 9: Allegretto grazioso to which Eder brings a lovely light touch before a fast Bagatelle No.10: Allegro with its constantly changing tempi and rhythms expertly handled here and leading to a very fine complex passage before the coda. Eder finds the elusive nature of Bagatelle No.11: Allegretto molto rubato and brings a real sensitivity to the subtly constructed Bagatelle No.12: Rubato with a beautifully light touch to the little rising and falling scales - a remarkably beautiful piece.  

She develops Bagatelle No.13: ‘Elle est morte’: Lento funebre beautifully, bringing some lovely harmonies before a very fine, concluding Bagatelle No.14: Valse ‘Ma mie qui danse’: Presto bringing terrific fluency to all the varying rhythms and tempi with a great coda.
The Two Romanian Dances, Op. 8/a, SZ.43 (1910) already show a further advance in Bartok’s style. Eder brings a fine sense of slowly developing rhythmic drive to the
Romanian Dance No. 1: Allegro Vivace, so restrained, building again from the slow section through some fine, intense passages. The Romanian Dance No. 2: Poco allegro is wonderfully skittish, this pianist providing great phrasing as it moves through its varying tempi and dissonances,  rising through some formidable passages played with terrific strength and clarity before the declamatory coda.
Moving forward, we come to the Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs, SZ.71 (1914-1918). They date from the war years. Bartok was rejected for military service and, in 1915, was collecting folksongs in Slovakia. This set of Hungarian Peasant Songs starts with Four Old Sorrowful Songs, firstly a beautifully expansive Rubato before a slow finely measured Andante where Eder conjures a real sense of sadness with some lovely subtle dissonances. Poco rubato is beautifully phrased and paced, bringing an intense melancholy that is picked up in the in the Andante.

Two other pieces follow, a lithe and rhythmic Scherzo (Allegro) with Eder bringing some fine textures and Ballade (Tema con variazioni) where she brings dramatic chords soon contrasted by a gentler section where she creates a lovely gentle melancholy together with some fine textures and sonorities before building some fine passages that lead to the coda.

The rest of the Hungarian Peasant Songs consist of nine Old Dance Tunes, Allegro bringing a typically spiky Bartok opening before this pianist leads us through some really fine passages. The Allegretto seems to pick up on the spiky rhythmic motif of the preceding piece, developing it into a quieter variation. Allegretto has an insistent rhythmic theme before the gentler opening of L’istesso tempo that soon develops a harder edge.

Assai moderato brings some beutifully fluent chords, an expansiveness that is lovely before a fleeting light, rhythmic Allegretto that quietly fades at the end. Eder gives a light fluent rhythmic lift to Poco più vivo – Allegretto before a faster Allegro that has beautifully controlled tempi. The Allegro - Più vivo - Poco più meno vivo makes a terrific conclusion with Eder highlighting the insistent rhythmic lines, bringing fine fluency as she moves quickly to the coda.
The Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20, SZ.74 (1920, corrected by Peter Bartók 2002) open with a slow, sad Molto moderato to which Eder brings much pathos. The tempo picks up with the Molto capriccioso with some terrific dissonances and rhythmic variations caught so well by this pianist. There is a quizzical little opening to Lento, rubato with this pianist allowing it to develop freely before the Allegretto scherzando, to which she brings a fine rhythmic litheness.

Allegro molto brings a faster dance with an insistent motif in this very fine performance, particularly in the more complex passages, rhythmically and harmonically. There are strange faltering phrases to Allegro moderato, molto capriccioso before its sudden end. Eder brings a real beauty to the slowly unfolding
Sostenuto, rubato before concluding the set with a nicely sprung Allegro, full of rhythmic subtleties.
It was Bartok’s son Peter, whose name appears above as making corrections to his father’s Hungarian Peasant Songs, who provided the stimulus to write Mikrokosmos (1926, 1932-39) a collection of 153 piano pieces in six volumes. They range from the relatively simple through to the most virtuosic, thereby covering all abilities.

Terry Eder takes Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm from the sixth and final volume of Mikrokosmos, SZ.107 containing some of the most complex and difficult pieces.

Mikrokosmos No.148 is fast flowing, complex and dissonant, beautifully phrased by Eder. Mikrokosmos No.149 is fast and furious rhythmic with this pianist bringing a terrific bounce and forward momentum.  The expansive yet rhythmically dancing
Mikrokosmos No.150 is full of subtle shifting harmonies, beautifully brought to life here before Mikrokosmos No.151 brings a lovely little tune that flows rapidly forward with a lovely flow, wonderfully phrased. Mikrokosmos No.152 is another fast flowing piece with varying rhythms and tempi, very finely done. A richly textured, fast and rhythmic Mikrokosmos No.153 ends this selection. Eder brings a terrific flow making this a fine conclusion to this recital. 

Terry Eder brings a fine fluency but above all rhythmic flexibility to this music. It is quite clear that she has thoroughly absorbed Bartok’s idiom making these performances very fine indeed. She is well recorded at the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State University of New York, USA. There are excellent notes from the pianist. 

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