BECHARA EL-KHOURY (b.1957): Piano Sonatas No. 1, Op. 35, No. 2, Op. 61, No. 3, Op. 67 “Jésus, l’Enfant du soleil” and No. 4, Op. 82 “Dans la nuit”, Rivers, Op. 89, Étude, Op. 51, Thème et Variations, Op. 45.

Catalogue Number: 08V056

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.579022

Format: CD

Price: $12.98

Description: Like his orchestral works offered previously (08Q080, 08T067) el-Khoury's works for his own instrument are in a neo-Romantic, chromatically ambiguous tonal vocabulary. The First Sonata is in three movements and is the most traditionally Romantic, with lush harmonies and rich, saturated colors. Written in Paris in 1984, there is more than a hint of Messiaen to its harmonic language. Fourteen years later, the composer was distancing himself from the formal structures and conflicts of the traditional sonata, in favor of a two-movement structure emphasizing drama and atmosphere over form. The first movement of the Second Sonata is austere, and harmonically makes use of minimal material, while the virtuosic second is a tumultuous toccata in cascading chords. The title of the Third Sonata suggests Messiaen, and so does the slow progression of polytonal chords with intermittent tonal oases in the first movement. The unpredictable sequences of dissonant added-note staccato chords in the vigorous second movement moves somewhat away from Messiaen in the direction of Sorabji. Again in binary slow-fast form, the 4th Sonata begins in almost Webernian austerity and economy, but soon the composer introduces calm islands of sonorous tonality. A fugato section briefly suggests order, before the darkness descends again in nocturnal chords. The following movement is marked Prestissimo frenetico, and is another toccata, more dissonant and with less sense of harmonic relationships than the previous ones.  What sounds like a deliberate Debussy quotation calms the music down and the work ends in stillness and poetry. Giacomo Scinardo (piano).


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