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MUSIC REVIEWS : Kipnis Focuses on 20th-Century Gems

October 24, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

Harpsichordist Igor Kipnis made music of the 20th Century the unlikely focus of his Friday night recital, part of the Los Angeles Bach Festival at First Congregational Church.

Though the newer works were all short and obscure, this was no mere tokenism on Kipnis' part. The products of some detective work by the 64-year-old musician, they became the center of his program, enlivened by his spoken introductions and keen performances, and sandwiched in between music of Handel, Bach and Scarlatti.

The 1921 "Suite de Clavecin" by the Dutch composer Alexander Nicolas Voormolen proved a well-wrought piece of Impressionism, elegant, nostalgic and anchored by the brilliant blur of its Toccatina finale. The 14-year-old Castelnuovo-Tedesco's English Suite-- written in 1909--starts with a quotation from Arne, wanders through a chromatic fantasy and ends with a devilish gigue.

Alfred Schnittke's 1990 "Drei Fragmente" are just that: the spare twangings of a broken music box; a section from the middle of a lost allegro; the inconsequential musings of an unfinished Lento--eerie and evocative.

Kipnis began with the Suite No. 4 in D minor by Handel, continued with four preludes and fugues from Book I of "The Well-Tempered Clavier" and closed with seven Scarlatti sonatas, all played knowingly and intently, with an astute ear for the cut and scope of their rhetoric.

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