Polish born and educated, Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986) was essentially a French composer, whose move to Paris in 1920 was the making of him. He won the admiration and friendship of both Ravel and Stravinsky, and took a central place in the exhilarating cultural life of the city’s Roaring Twenties, even if his guitar music bears little trace of ‘Jazz Age’ experimentation. The guiding force behind Tansman’s writing for the instrument lies, instead, in the person of Andres Segovía, catalyst and Svengali for so many composers in the first half of the 20th century.
The wandering harmonies of the Inventions and duet Sonatina may betray the influence of Ravel and Scriabin, with their echoes of French neoclassicism. The four Mazurkas, Suite in modo polonico and Hommage à Chopin, however speak clearly of Tansman’s deep love for his native Poland; a love infused with nostalgia and imbued with a tender melancholy. The Spanish dance-music from which Segovía drew his own distinctive aesthetic identity is reflected in Tansman’s transformations of vernacular French and Spanish melodies and rhythms in the Pièces Brèves and the Suite, which concludes with a movement simply titled Segovia. However, Segovía made significant editorial interventions in Tansman’s scores, and Cristiano Poli Cappelli has returned to the composer’s original ordering and markings in works such as the portmanteau, six-movement Suite.
Tansman’s music for guitar is regularly encountered in mixed collections and compilations on record, but this is the first truly complete set; a previous disc billed as such omits several works such as the Pièce en forme de Passacaille and Hommage à Lech Walesa. Cristiano Poli Cappelli is joined in the duet-Sonatina by Andrea Pace; together they have recorded the complete music for two guitars by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco on Brilliant Classics (BC94833).
The music of Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986) is getting more and more attention lately, and rightly so, because here is a highly original yet accessible voice from 20-th century Poland, a highly prolific composer for both the student and the professional.
Tansman’s style is influenced by Ravel (the colouristic effects), Scriabin (the extended harmonic language) and his deep love for Polish music and folklore.
This set contains his complete output for guitar solo, suites of Dance forms (often Polish), an Homage a Chopin, Inventions (an homage a Bach), Homage a Lech Walesa and many other exquisite miniatures full of melodic invention, surprising harmonies and a sincere expression of feeling.
Beautifully played by Italian guitarist Cristiano Poli Cappelli, who wrote the liner notes in English and Italian.