ROBERT HELPS (1928-2001): Complete Piano Works, Vol. 1 - Shall We Dance, In Retrospect, Nocturne, Valse Mirage, Music for the Left Hand: 3 Etudes, Fantasy Fontana, 3 Hommages, Radiance, Postcards, 4 Song Transcriptions.
Catalogue Number: 08J086
Reference: TROY 925
Description: Helps was a most unusual figure in American contemporary music; a true pianist-composer in the Romantic tradition, equally at home performing virtuosic works of the repertory - he possessed a formidable technique at the piano - and works by his contemporaries (such as Sessions, his composition teacher and an early influence). And, of course, writing music, including a significant amount for his own instrument. Like an almost exact contemporary, whose ties to the European Grand Pianistic tradition are more obvious - Ronald Stevenson - Helps' music is firmly grounded in tonality, with an unfailing sense of rich harmony and pianistic invention. French music - especially Fauré - is a notable influence on Helps' lush harmonies and textures, and the shade of Busoni is, perhaps inevitably, frequently detectable. But Helps was no Romantic conservative or throwback; he was thoroughly conversant with the music of Ligeti, Messiaen, Babbitt and of course Sessions, among many others, and in many of these pieces - especially the Etudes and Radiance he employs a polyphonic vocabulary that is decidedly and unmistakably modern. Naomi Niskala (piano).