Leon Kirchner – Revelations

Revelations is an interesting overview of Kirchner’s music. It ranges from some of his earliest work as a student in 1943, up through 2006, three years before his death. It’s also an intimate overview,  comprising of works for solo piano and piano plus voice compositions.

The opening and closing piano works — Little Suite (1949) and The Forbidden (2006) frame the collection nicely. The Little Suite is charming in its simplicity and straight-forward themes. The Forbidden, though more complex, flows with the same easy motion as the Suite.

Dawn, while tonally based, avoids all the cliches of choral writing. This brief work has a sense of urgency to it that effectively conveys the meaning of the text. Words from Wordsworth, written 20 years after in  1966 is much more strident and edgy in tone. This isn’t an academic exercise in dissonance. Kirchner illuminates the text with his carefully constructed harmonies.

Three Songs (1946) and The Twilight Stood (1982) are the most angular and atonal of the selections. Once again, the music is there to serve the text. Kirchner brings the emotions of the words vividly to life.

Pianist Joel Fan, who performs on all but one of selections, is an admirable interpreter of this music. His sympathetic readings bring its emotional content to the fore.

Leon Kirchner: Revelations
Joel Fan, piano; Diana Hoagland, soprano; Beverly Hoch, soprano; Scott Dunn, conductor; Leon Kirchner, piano
Verdant World Records

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