FAURÉ: 13 BARCAROLLES; DOLLY
SALLY PINKAS, piano
HIRSCH-PINKAS PIANO DUO
“…the collection as a whole projects a wide range of somewhat muted colors and emotions, dark but not in a cathartic or easily-felt way like Chopin. These leave a more complicated aftertaste. Part of this must be attributed to the artistry of Sally Pinkas. Although alive to the prettiness of the scores (and good at expressing it), tunes don’t interest her as much as the nuances, the oddnesses, the undercurrents of melancholy… [Pinkas is] joined by Evan Hirsch for the piano duet suite Dolly, which is temperamentally the opposite of many of the barcarolles: a suite of six works written for the child daughter of a friend …No need to worry about the chemistry between the two pianists; they’re married. He also produced and edited the good, atmospheric recorded sound. All told, a marvellous disc… The pianist’s own booklet notes are a considerable bonus.”
Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International [June 2013]
“In recent years, Sally Pinkas has made a name for herself as an interpreter of Gabriel Fauré's music for piano -- and for good reason. Following in the footsteps of her highly acclaimed recording of the Frenchman's nocturnes, Pinkas' latest venture breathes life into the varied set of musical characters that comprise Fauré's barcarolles for solo piano… Pinkas' astute identification of this subtle variety is the first great achievement of her newest recording project; the second is her ability to bring it convincingly to the fore… Not only does Pinkas succeed in creating a sound world of infinite hues; she also uses this world as a vehicle through which to lend each work a character of its own… Pinkas proves to be a virtuoso in bringing out the piano's many different faces…her bold and assertive approach remains sensitive to the infinite changes in harmonic palette… [In Fauré's Dolly Suite as performed by Pinkas and Evan Hirsch] the duo extracts a great deal of character from the music… the recording as a whole is a welcome addition to the ever-growing Fauré discography. I have a veritable craving for more of Ms Pinkas' fine interpretations of this underplayed repertoire.”
Andrew Schartmann, Music & Vision [April 2013]
“Sally Pinkas has just the right approach to Fauré: always allow the melody to come through…While Pinkas has all the subtlety and panache you could ever want, she also has power and passion when it is called for… Pinkas has come to grips with the detailed nuances of his writing, and we are the beneficiaries… Sally Pinkas’s playing is also superb, and the recorded sound here is even better; so if you want just a great single disc, this would be a great place to start. In the Dolly Suite for piano duet, Pinkas is ably partnered by her husband, Evan Hirsch. This is guaranteed to bring smiles to your face, and is played with sensitivity, impeccable ensemble, and a twinkling of the eye.”
Harrington, American Record Guide [May/June 2013]
“From the paucity of my reviews, you may gather, correctly, that I haven’t been terribly fond of the piano music of French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). As it turns out, I just hadn’t heard enough of it played by the Israeli-born American pianist and scholar Sally Pinkas. As she shows us in the present program of Barcarolles, Fauré was a master of the subtlest lyrical and rhythmical effects… There is a tendency among critics to view Fauré’s development as a progress from romantic to impressionist, and finally one who was susceptible to modernistic influences. That needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As I listen to Sally Pinkas’ highly engaging performances, I get the impression of a composer who could vary his approach to a given genre but was remarkably true to himself throughout his career… Together with her duo partner Evan Hirsch, Pinkas does a splendid job of re-creating the world of childhood imagination contained in Fauré’s Dolly Suite… The concluding piece “Le pas Espagnole” is an ebullient and extroverted Spanish dance that Pinkas and Hirsch invest with all the brilliance and color it deserves.”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [January 2013]
“[Pinkas] melds lucid textures with subtle expressive detailing, minus hints of bombast or mannerism”
PROGRAM NOTES“Fauré, like... others before him, was alive to the melancholy of the gondoliers’ songs heard echoing
across the lagoon...” wrote his biographer Nectoux. Fauré’s earliest Barcarolle was a song he wrote in 1873, a setting of a poem by Monnier spoken in the voice of a gondolier of the Grand Canal. Soon he was writing Barcarolles for solo piano, four of which were completed before his first visit to Venice in 1891. Leading a busy professional life during the year, Fauré composed during his summer vacations, which he often spent at European lakeside towns such as Lugano, Annecy and Lausanne. The inspiration he found in the boat-song was to remain with him throughout his life.
Venice had long held sway over artists’ imagination. Pianistic precedents were Mendelssohn’s short
Venetian Gondola Songs of the 1830s and 40s (from Songs Without Words), and Chopin’s celebrated Barcarolle Op. 60 (1846). Liszt, inspired by his visit to Wagner in Venice, was to compose
and revise La lugubre Gondola throughout the 1880s, and Thomas Mann published his novella
Death in Venice in 1912. Fauré’s Barcarolles, composed between 1881 and 1921, journey along a road parallel to the one traversed from Mendelssohn to Mann, charting a course between Romantic opulence and nascent Modernism.
The Barcarolle was the perfect vehicle for the composer’s temperament. In Fauré’s masterful hands,
the naïve folk-song was transformed, in turns, into an ecstatic waltz, a quirky frolic and an eerie drone. Notwithstanding their rhythmic uniformity, each of the thirteen Barcarolles followed an individual path, similar in its undulating motion but never truly the same.
Following her Wigmore Hall debut, Israeli-born pianist Sally Pinkas has been heard in recital at Italy’s Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio and Villa Aurelia in Rome, Bulgaria’s National Gallery of Sofia and Mirror Hall in Dobrich, in Israel, France and throughout the United States. Pinkas has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops, Aspen Philharmonia and the Jupiter Symphony. Summer credits include festivals at Monadnock, Apple Hill,Rockport, Marlboro, Tanglewood and Aspen, as well as “Hopes, Talents, Masters” in Bulgaria, Officina Scotese in Italy and Masters de Pontlevoy in France.
As a chamber musician, Pinkas explores a wide range of repertoire and genres. With husband Evan Hirsch (the Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo) she has toured extensively and recorded works by George Rochberg, Daniel Pinkham and Thomas Oboe Lee for the Naxos and Arsis labels. With longtime partner flutist Fenwick Smith, Pinkas has released a Martinu disc, as well as a 3-CD set featuring the music of Philippe Gaubert on Naxos. Her solo CDs include Debussy’s Etudes and Estampes on Centaur, Piano works by Christian Wolff on Mode, and Faure’s Nocturnes on Musica Omnia. She is a member of Trio Tremonti and Ensemble Schumann, and appears regularly with the Adaskin String Trio. Sally Pinkas holds performance degrees from Indiana University and the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Ph.D. in Composition from Brandeis University. She is currently Pianist-in-Residence at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, where she is also Professor of Music. [www.sallypinkas.org]
American pianist Evan Hirsch performs extensively as both recitalist and chamber player, in such venues as Jordan Hall in Boston, Muson Centre in Lagos and Palazzo Savelli Chigi in Ariccia. As member of the Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo, he has toured China, Nigeria, Russia, Israel and Europe, and has commissioned, premiered and recorded works by Martin Pearlman, Kui Dong, Peter Child and Thomas Oboe Lee for the New Albion, Otherminds and Albany labels. Summer festival credits include Kfar Blum in Israel, Masters de Pontlevoy in France, Officina Scotese in Italy and ppIANISSIMO in Bulgaria. His extensive discography features multi-disc compilations of works by Daniel Pinkham on Arsis and George Rochberg on Naxos. Hirsch holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from SUNY Purchase, and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory. He teaches piano and chamber music at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and has held Visiting Professor appointments at Dartmouth College in 2007 and 2011. [ www.evanhirsch.org ]
GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924)