Snapshots – Peter Knell miniatures shine in new collection

This recording features two works by Peter Knell, and one by Sergei Prokofiev — but there’s a good reason for its inclusion.

The title work, Snapshots is a set of 22 short vignettes for piano. Each one is a delightful miniature. Knell has arranged them so that they form a logical progression, making Snapshots an enjoyable 20-minute listen.

Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives, Op. 27 follows Snapshots on the album. This collection of 20 short piano pieces invites comparison to the miniatures of Knell’s work. Prokfiev’s forward-looking acerbic writing nicely complements Knell’s sometimes backward-looking style, and the two works kind of meet stylistically in the middle.

Knell’s Piano Sonata No. 1 rounds out the program. Although a weightier work than Snapshots, it still fits with the other two pieces. This 12-minute sonata comprises of five short movements, all under three minutes in length. This is about the same length as some of the longer sections of Snapshots and Visions fugitives. The sonata moves from one distilled emotion to the next, each movement offering a dramatic contrast to the one before.

Knell’s piano writing is idiomatic and sure. Knell incorporates elements of other musical genres (like rock and soul) into his pieces, making them true works of the eclectic 21st century.

Markus Pawlik’s technique is flawless. His clean articulation at times makes the music sparkle.

Snapshots: Piano Works
Piano works of Peter Knell and Sergei Prokofiev
Markus Pawlik, piano
Sonos Luminus

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