06 Orion Weiss Arc IARC I: Granados; Janáček; Scriabin
Orion Weiss
First Hand Records FHR127 (firsthandrecords.com)

American pianist Orion Weiss delivers a powerful musical statement with his new album, ARC I: Granados, Janáček, Scriabin. Please note that I am using the term album, rather than recording. This is purposeful. Without generalizing, or hopefully sounding overly pedantic, much of what exists in both classical (and jazz) discographies are recordings; a sound capture of what, essentially, is a live musical event documented in such a way as to preserve and remember a concertizing moment in time. An album, conversely, has, at the very least, an extra musical purpose to it, cognizant of track order, narrative arc and overall presentation. 

What Weiss has created, by connecting music written by Enrique Granados, Leoš Janáček and Alexander Scriabin (historically congruent, but stylistically and nationalistically disparate composers), through their zeitgeist-appropriate shared aesthetic of writing bleak, self-referential and globally aware music shortly before the world plunged into a devastating and worldwide war, is creative, programmatic and most definitely, album worthy.

As the first of three recordings in a projected ARC trilogy, Weiss here finds the commonalities of modernism, despair and haunting beauty that unites Granados’ Goyescas, Janáček’s In the Mists and Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No.9 “Black Mass,” mining historically prescient meaning from these pieces, as our world watches what seems likely to be an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine. Weiss’ album is beautifully played, captured with sonic elegance and presents an eerie programmatic message in musical form of what creatively was in the air between 1911 and 1913. The world should listen. Not only for the beauty of this recording, but for the message therein.

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