David McGrory’s new release Remember the Fallen (store.cdbaby.com) marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, 1914-1918. He’s chosen three works to represent the responses of composers affected by the conflict. Le Tombeau de Couperin is Maurice Ravel’s memorial to people he knew who had lost their lives in military service. Each of the work’s movements is dedicated to them. It’s not a directly programmatic piece and doesn’t set out to capture the mood of the period. It’s simply a contemporary expression inspired by Couperin’s 17th-century keyboard suites. McGrory has an impressive facility with the speed Ravel requires to execute the Prelude, Rigaudon and Toccata but he makes his greatest impact with the very tender and heartfelt Minuet. There’s a tremendous feeling of suspended melancholy that hangs over the entire movement. Gorgeous. Frank Bridge’s Piano Sonata gives McGrory a similar opportunity. Its second movement is an extended calm between the work’s violent outer movements and his performance of it is profoundly moving.
“It takes sensitivity and imagination as well as good technique to reveal the secrets of Mendelssohn’s Andante and Rondo Capriccioso … this was a fine performance. Stravinsky’s 1924 Piano Sonata provided another challenge from which David emerged with great credit … the recital ended with a dashing performance of Philip Hammond’s French Blues which again emphasized the players excellent command of the keyboard.”
“David McGrory … approached Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with a sense of musical confidence expressed through an unmistakable desire to balance the brilliance and bravura with touches of gentle reflectiveness …”
“Last night he [David McGrory] was the soloist in the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1, a showpiece of the repertoire of every pianist with the requisite virtuoso technique … as expected David was not found wanting in the technical demands of the concerto and he played with confidence, considerable flair and effect. “