The Year that Never Was, a Sono Luminus release DSL-92258

Matei Varga, piano

Ernesto LecuonaAndalucía, La Cardenense , Arabesque, La Mulata, Al Fin Te Vi, Minstrels, Zambra Gitana, Danza Lucumi, Yo te quiero siempre, Vals Azul; ChopinTrois Ecossaises, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. 66 in C-sharp minor, Etude Op. 10 No. 12 in C minor, Impromptu No. 3, Op. 51 in G-flat major; GershwinI Got Rhythm, The Man I Love; BeethovenBagatelle in A minor “Für Elise”; Domenico Scarlatti – Keyboard Sonata K 380 in E major, Keyboard Sonata K 135 in E major; Andrei Tudor Rondo alla Crazy; BalakirevSpanish Melody

Recorded May 1-3, 2021 at Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, VA. To be released June 24, 2022

Pre-order at https://www.sonoluminus.com/store/the-year-that-never-was.

The Year that Never Was is Matei Varga’s second album for SONO LUMINUS. Sheer delight, it includes a brace of Chopin selections in which the Rumanian pianist mixes the grand with the miniature:  Trois Ecossaises, new to me and all three delicately played and three tour de force pieces that Varga dazzingly plays– the C-sharp minor Fantaisie-Impromptu, the C minor Etude Impromptu, and the G-flat major Impromptu.

A portion of the album combines the familiar with pleasurable discoveries: Andrei Tudor’s wackily complex Rondo alla Crazy tossed of by Varga without breaking a sweat, and Mili Balakirev’s flavorful Spanish Melody,a couple of jazzy Gershwin ditties, a couple of Domenico Scarlatti brief and elegantly played Sonatas, and a crisply executed “Für Elise.”

The terrific SONO LUMINUS team of Producer and Editing Engineer Dan Merceruio and Recording, Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Daniel Shores again delivers a first-class product.

What will surely surprise the listener are ten selections by Ernesto Lecuona. The music of the gifted Cuban composer is beloved by his compatriots: elegantly rhapsodic and yet rooted in the tropical rhythms of his country of birth, richly varied in forms, with habaneras, danzas, scherzos, danzones, and rumbas following in succession, pianistically challenging, though never at the expense of melodies that pour out selection after selection.

The well-known Andalucía and Danza Lucumi keep company with the rarely heard – even for this Cuban-born listener – La Cardenense , Arabesque, La Mulata, Al Fin Te Vi, Minstrels, Zambra Gitana, Yo te quiero siempre, and Vals Azul.

Throughout one hour of music that straddles the salon with the “seriously” traditional, the extraordinary Matei Varga is welcomed back, playing idiomatically as to the manner born with a cool brain and a warm heart, letting the music of Lecuona and his predecessors resonate eloquently in a treasurable collection of music for the piano, assembled after months of isolation imposed on the artist and on all of us by unfortunate circumstances.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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