ROBERT HELPS (1928-2001): Postlude for Horn, Violin and Piano, Fantasy for Violin and Piano, Piano Quartet, Quintet for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Piano Trios I and II.

Catalogue Number: 10N066

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.559696-97

Format: CD

Price: $35.98

Description: A unique figure in American music, Helps remains perhaps somewhat undervalued today, a decade after his death. His music is firmly grounded in tonality, with an unfailing sense of rich harmony and pianistic invention (he was a formidable pianist, as his performances of his own and Godowsky's intricately virtuosic transcriptions amply display). A very French sense of elegance and colour is always present - indeed, colour is a central feature of Helps' music, whether the rich, saturated, incandescent colors of Scriabin and Messiaen or the meticulously balanced palette of the Second Viennese School. Scriabin is very present in the rather romantic quartet, its first movement an extended solo piano piece, while the quintet - from the same year - is more sinewy, serial and Second-Viennese (via Sessions, an influential teacher to Helps). The trios span the greater part of the composer's career, and show a remarkably unified compositional vision; they are major works of Helps' first and last phases, with the slow movement of the second an especially eloquent and sustained elegy. 2 CDs. Includes 35 minutes of Helps playing Mendelssohn, Ireland, Poulenc, Godowsky and Helps (Shall We Dance) in 1997 and 2000 in Berlin. Spectrum Concerts Berlin.

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