Kevin Gorman continues exciting new cycle
Williams Bland composed an extraordinary cycle of piano sonatas. There are twenty-four in all, one for each major and minor key. Kevin Gorman has already recorded Sonatas Nos. 17 and 18 for Bridge. This release features nos. 9 and 10. Here’s hoping for a complete cycle!
Both sonatas on this release were written in 2001, and each takes the listener on a journey. Bland is a composer who follows his own muse. His style is a seamless blend of late- and post-Romanticism, jazz, pop, and a few other genres. But it’s not a hodgepodge.
These works are carefully constructed. Stylistic shifts are as important as key changes in developing his themes.
Sonata No. 9 in F major is titled “Spring.” It refers not so much to the season, but rather to what the season brings. As Bland describes it, “atmosphere, love and lust, flowers and anticipation.” And his music delivers.
The third movement, “Flowers” is subdivided into several sections. Each section references a different blossom. And each section is music of rare and delicate beauty.
Sonata No. 10 in E minor has quite a different character. Here Bland seems inspired by composers such as Schubert and Chopin.
As with Schubert’s piano sonatas, I didn’t try to discern where the themes fit in a formal structure. Rather, I just let the music carry me from one idea to the next. And enjoyed every minute of it.
Gorman’s performances are committed and sure. And that’s a good thing. These sonatas are not easy to play. And it takes a high degree of musicality to bring out the expressive narratives of these works. Gorman easily succeeds at both.
I’m very much looking forward to the next volume.
William Bland: Piano Sonata No. 9 in F major “Spring”
Piano Sonata No. 10 in E minor; Nouveau Rag
Kevin Gorman, piano
Bridge Records 9580