Sunday, January 20, 2013

In review--Dances and Finger Twisters

Julian Cochran
Extracts From Romanian Dances,
Animation Suite and Mazurkas
Independent release

English pianist virtuoso/composer Julian Cochran gazes fondly at Eastern European folk dances and 19th and 20th century composers who composed mainly for piano.  While Cochran has a good ear for delightful and playful melodies, his compositions don't stray far from piano works by Liszt, Ravel, and Prokofiev.  In fact, my first impression of the opening piece, Russian Toccata (on the CD Extracts from Romanian Dances...) reminded me of Prokofiev from the first quirky piano phrase, and since I like Prokofiev, I mean "quirky" as a compliment.  While the pieces here are obviously finger-twisters, in their complexity and speed, Cochran plays with these pieces with gleeful abandonment.

The folkloric dances appear on tracks 3 through 7 and for this section, I'm reminded of Chopin's dreamy piano works.  The only problem I have with this recording is that it's too short and feels more like a sampler than an actual recording.  I would like to see these pieces further developed (although Maelstrom 1, the closing piece feels fully developed while blending French Impressionism with late Romantic Era Russian).  As they are, they sweep past me, leaving me almost breathless.  I would like to see one of the major classical labels pick up this artist and produce an album that last longer than 30 minutes.

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