Guess who got a splendid review in Gramophone Magazine? ME!!!!
Opening. Metamorphosis !-V. Mad Rush. Dead Things. Wichita Vortex Sutra.
Sally Whitwell pf
ABC Classics ABC476 4469 (62’ DDD)
Earlier this year Sally Whitwell performed Philip Glass’s Etudes for solo piano in Los Angeles alongside Maki Namekawa and the composer himself, further proof - if any were needed - of Whitwell’s rise to fame as one of today’s foremost interpreters of minimalist piano music.
In fact, Whitwell’s interest in Glass’s music dates back many years. Originally released in her native Australia in 2011, Mad Rush serves as an excellent introduction to the composer’s piano music. Whitwell compares Glass up close to ‘impressionist pixelations’, adding that it’s important to step back a little in order to see its ‘magnificent, undulating, organic shapes’. It is this ability to step back and communicate the music’s overarching sweep without losing sight of the details that marks out Whitwell’s recording from any number of recordings of Glass’s piano music. her take on Metamorphosis is particularly effective. By slowing down Metamorphosis II, giving III the character of a scherzo and IV that of a finale, Whitwell imparts an almost sonata-like unity to the cycle (with the first and last pieces acting as introduction and conclusion respectively). Her ability to shape and sustain in physically and mentally more demanding works such as Mad Rush and (especially) Wichita Vortex Sutra also stands out.
Both the piano itself (designed by Stuart and Sons and employing a vertical string coupling device in the form of the ‘bridge agraffe’) and pop-style close-miking result in a more intimate sound which still retinas some of the typical sense of space found in most classical recordings. For Whitwell it’s all about connection and communication and ‘Mad Rush’ manages that in abundance.
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