Saturday, January 17, 2015 CD Review: H. Leslie Adams, Piano Etudes, with Maria Thompson Corley & Thomas Otten

 The H. Leslie Adams (b. 1932) Homepage is at:  H. Leslie Adams 
is profiled at AfriClassical.comwhich features a comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

H. Leslie Adams PIANO ETUDES Part I, 
Maria Corley, YouTube

H. Leslie Adams PIANO ETUDES Part II, 
Thomas Otten, YouTube

January 15, 2015

Daniel Hathaway

Cleveland composer H. Leslie Adams (left), an Oberlin Conservatory graduate, spent the decade from 1997 to 2007 writing his Twenty-six Etudes for Solo Piano. He describes them in the liner notes to two recent recordings as “studies of varying styles, moods, tonalities, and thematic natures — each providing different technical challenges, while expressing my personal sense of beauty.”
Separately, Adams has written that one of his Oberlin composition teachers told him, “Leslie, you have a unique gift for melody. Stick with it.” The composer adds, “I took his great advice and have pursued a ‘bel canto path’ throughout my career.’

That career has been a long one — Adams is now an octogenarian — and it has recently been crowned by the world premiere performances of his complete Etudes at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Two recitals by pianists Maria Corley and Thomas Otten provided the grand finale to the UNC music department’s Etude Festival, held from October 26-November 2, 2014.

Corley had previously recorded the first dozen Etudes for Albany Records. Otten followed that with volume two, recorded at Hill Hall Auditorium at UNC in December, 2013 and January 2014 (also on the Albany label). Though we have Otten’s CD in hand, this article is based on a DVD we received of the live performances last November 1 and 2.

In a Broad Street Review blog entry, Jamaican-born, Canadian pianist Maria Thompson Corley, who did her undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta and won her master’s and doctoral degrees from Juilliard, notes that the Etudes “explore all registers of the piano. The writing is often thick, with multiple climactic moments and, as one would expect with etudes, a wide variety of technical demands…There is certainly dissonance, but Leslie writes from the heart. Of course, you don’t have to be neo-romantic with touches of jazz and popular music to write from the heart. But in Leslie’s case, that’s how things turned out.”

Comments by email:

1) Dear Bill,  Recent post most appreciated.  [H. Leslie Adams]

2) Thanks! :)  [Maria Corley]  

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