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Reed Tetzloff: Sounds of Transcendence

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Gramophone
February 2018

Composer or Director: Alexander Scriabin, Charles T(omlinson) Griffes, César Franck

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Roméo Records

Magazine Review Date: 02/2018

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 0

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: 7323


Tracks:

Sonata for Piano 

Charles T(omlinson) Griffes, Composer Charles T(omlinson) Griffes, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


(The) Pleasure-dome of Kubla Khan

Charles T(omlinson) Griffes, Composer Charles T(omlinson) Griffes, Composer


Valse

Alexander Scriabin, Composer Alexander Scriabin, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


(4) Pieces, Movement: No. 1, Fragilité in E flat

Alexander Scriabin, Composer Alexander Scriabin, Composer 

 Reed Tetzloff, Piano


(3) Pieces, Movement: No. 2, Enigma

Alexander Scriabin, Composer Alexander Scriabin, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


Sonata for Piano No. 7, 'White Mass'

Alexander Scriabin, Composer Alexander Scriabin, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


Vers la flamme

Alexander Scriabin, Composer Alexander Scriabin, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


Prélude, choral et fugue

César Franck, Composer César Franck, Composer Reed Tetzloff, Piano


Charles Tomlinson Griffes and the painter Mary Cassatt are the two most  noteworthy Impressionists America produced. Yet Griffes’s now  century-old masterpiece, the formidable Sonata, is rarely encountered in  concert and represented by fewer than 20 recordings in current  catalogues. Reed Tetzloff, the 25-year-old Minneapolis native who makes  his impressive solo recording debut here, has not only exhausted every  implication of this enigmatic work but seems delighted to share his  discoveries. Rhetorical aptness is front and centre in the sonata’s  first movement, as Tetzloff negotiates Griffes’s luxuriously sensual  harmonic syntax with a sure sense of direction. The mysterious,  dreamlike tranquillity enveloping the slow movement is deeply affecting.  But it is mere prologue to the culminating Allegro vivace, which evokes an apocalyptic vision with stunning clarity and disarming spontaneity. The more familiar Pleasure Dome of Kubla Kahn exhibits a similar identification with Griffes’s idiom. But the Sonata  is the greater achievement and ranks easily with the recordings of  Garrick Ohlsson and Stephen Beus as the finest available.


The well-chosen Scriabin group flows seamlessly from the perfumed  salon atmosphere of the 1903 A flat Waltz to the heady symbolism of Vers la flamme from 1914. ‘Fragilité’ showcases Tetzloff’s refined touch and the  Seventh Sonata exemplifies his ability to elucidate formal structure  within heavy harmonic overgrowth. But I found myself returning with  relish to the Op 38 Waltz, where Tetzloff perfectly captures an overripe  fin de siècle insouciance, poised just this side of trashiness.


After the colour-drenched extravaganzas of Griffes and Scriabin, Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue seems almost chaste. Kaleidoscopic colours are exchanged for fervent  rapture in a performance that, while not as unmistakably French as, say,  Bertrand Chamayou’s, carries the day with its sincerity and the sheer  beauty of its musicality. As remarkably developed as Tetzloff’s gift is,  it also suggests even greater things to come.


Patrick Rucker
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