HARRY SOMERS> (1925-1999): Piano Works - Nothing Too Serious (Darrett Zusko), 3 Sonnets, Strangeness of Heart (Karen Quinton), 12 x 12 (Fugues for Piano) (Jacinthe Couture), Sonatas No. 1 "Testament of Youth" (Reginald Godden), No. 2 (Paul Helmer), No. 3 (André-Sébastien Savoie), No. 4 (John McKay) and No. 5 (Antonin Kubalek).
Catalogue Number: 04L120
Reference: CMCCD 14509
Description: The piano was Somers' instrument, and he wrote consistently for it during the 1940s and 50s but then abandoned it until very late in his life, producing the set of enigmatic and aphoristic character pieces Nothing Too Serious. There is a distinct family resemblance between these and the early works; a great sense of color and atmosphere, and a tonally based language which owes much to European trends of the early 20th century. The set of twelve fugues on dodecaphonic subjects (hence the title), from 1951, reflects a preoccupation with fugue that was important to the composer during the 1950s, with Somers' characteristic freedom from strict serial practices, wedded to a thorough working of the fugal form. The series of five sonatas is the backbone of Somers' output for the piano, a substantial body of work. The first (1944) may have some programmatic content of 'war requiem' character; certainly the dramatic emotional impact of the dissonant, tonal language lends weight to this idea. The last movement of the second is formidably virtuosic, over a driving ostinato, implying that the composer's pianistic prowess was considerable during those years. The following two sonatas were written in Paris in 1950. The third is powerful and dramatic, the fourth more intimate; both show the influence of serialism, though treated with considerable freedom. The final sonata, and final piano work before the curious 40-year hiatus that followed it, explores several of the composer's trademark concerns; fugue, the evolution of elaborate textures from restricted material, and the expressive possibilities of the instrument, always within the context of a conventional treatment of the keyboard. 2 CDs.