JEAN BARRAQUE - Sonate pour piano

Celestial Harmonies : Jean Barraqué, Sonate pour piano
http://www.harmonies.com/13325-2_woodward_barraque/index.html

Review
http://www.br.de/radio/br-klassik/sendungen/leporello/cd-tipp-barraque-sonate-woodward100.html
Helmut Rohm/Bayerischer Rundfunk

Translation: Eckart Rahn
Jean Barraqué
Sonate pour piano
Jean Barraqué‘s sonata in two movements, finished 1952, is a monumental work, lasting about fifty minutes, composed in serial technique. It belongs to the most relevant and important works for solo piano, composed in the 20th century. For good reason is it mentioned in the same breath as Beethoven’s late piano works.
Who was this Jean Barraqué who lived from 1928 to 1973? He and Pierre Boulez – both students of Messiaen – were the two leading French composers, writing in the strict serial style. However, Barraqué‘s music is less crystalline; it rather has the thread of basic human existence woven into its fabric. Dedicated to the sublime in a unique way of his own, he only allowed six works the right to exist in his name: a philosophically oriented, radical artist, an eccentric and a tragic figure.
An exceptional reference interpretation
That Celestial Harmonies published now a recording by the Australian pianist Roger Woodward who also never allowed a template to describe him, is a shining cultural accomplishment. For several reasons. The tapes with the absolutely exceptional reference interpretation by Roger Woodward had only been located in 2013, and the recording is here presented in an excellent digital restoration. Whilst Woodward plays the sheer unbelievably technically and structurally difficult work with as much accuracy as one could hope for, his playing has also and at the same time a sense of poetic soul that blows through the work like the wind – it gets under your your skin as it effects you. Woodward’s subtle art of articulation creates in the serial/polyphonic moments an unheard-of transparency and depth-of-field focus. His timing is the expression of intuitive assuredness of the organic interplay of the powers of structure.
Feverishly-eruptive Episodes
Leading up to the recording, Woodward had worked for months on end with the composer – who appeared to have been resigned himself to an early death already at the time – going over each gesture, each of the magical constellations of Barraqué‘s cosmos. And Barraqué was present throughout the recording. That the pianist knows how to tell the tale, full of images and intensity in an extensive booklet essay results in a music-historically relevant enrichment of this wonderful edition. Woodward’s musical odyssey through the feverishly-erupting but then again lyrically-gentle episodes of Barraqué‘s masterpiece, flooded underneath by soft stillness and the night, as the sonata ends with a linear representation of the twelve-tone row, is incomparable.
Helmut Rohm/Bayerischer Rundfunk
Translation: Eckart Rahn

“fingers and nerves of steel”   Andrew Porter, The New Yorker