La Muse Oubliée II
Antonio Oyazarbal, piano

Music by women composers is now almost ubiquitous in concert programmes and recordings, and the contribution of female composers to classical music’s oeuvre is finally being properly recognised, though not without significant effort on the part of advocates, such as Spanish pianist Antonio Oyazarbal, and the work of DONNE: Women in Music, for which he is an ambassador.

Antonio Oyazarbal

Antonio Oyazarbal

La Muse Oubliée II is the second album by Oyazarbal exploring piano music by women composers, and his original interest in this corner of classical music history came from growing up amongst “women who were independent, creative, strong”, and from his mother who taught him to be curious. The title of both albums is deliberate: for centuries women were considered only as inspirers/muses to men, while their own compositions remained undervalued, overlooked and unperformed. The task of putting together both albums has not been easy: together with a paucity of reference material, scores or decent editions were hard to come by.

Except for a few cases (Louise Farrenc, Cecile Chaminade, Florence Price, Nadia Boulanger, Dora Pejačević), most of the women on this album are still sadly unknown, and in several instances, Oyazarbal presents premiere recordings. And as with his first album of music by women composers, Oyazarbal has found great inspiration and motivation in his research of music for this recording. In his own words, he has “got up close and personal” with these remarkable, creative women.

Sketches in Sepia (Florence Price) – Antonio Oyarzábal, piano

Refreshingly, Oyazarbal avoids tokenism and instead has chosen to present the very best examples, embracing a wide range of styles and eras – from twentieth-century Australian composer Miriam Hyde (1913-2005), whose atmospheric Wet Night on the Highway (1958) opens the album, to Austrian composer and keyboard and vocal performer Marianne von Martinez (1744-1812). The nineteenth century is well represented by composers such as Louise Farrenc, Cecile Chaminade, and Marie Wieck (sister of Clara Schumann), as is the twentieth century.

Miriam Hyde: Wet Night on the Highway (Antonio Oyarzabal, piano)

La Muse Oubliée II (Antonio Oyazarbal, piano) album cover

The result is a recital disc of high-quality music, perceptively and sensitively performed. There are some real gems in Oyazarbal’s selection, not only the opening piece but also works by Dana Suesse (1909-1987), whose jazz-inspired American Nocturne is given a wonderfully relaxed lilt by Oyazarbal, or the tender, folksy Ukolébavka (Lullaby) by Czech pianist Otilie Suková (1878-1905). Khorumi by Meri Davitashvili (1924-2014) is a lively, colourful Georgian dance with offbeat rhythms and contrasting textures. Overall, this disc showcases not only the breadth and variety of music by women composers, but also Oyazarbal’s versatility as a performer: he brings warmth and expression to lyrical melodies, and really sparkles in the more upbeat pieces, with a vivid tone which is never harsh.

Dana Suesse: American Nocturne (Antonio Oyarzabal, piano)

A valuable addition to the growing catalogue of recorded music by women and an intriguing voyage of discovery for anyone who is interested in discovering new piano repertoire.

La Muse Oubliee II is released by the IBS classical label on CD and all major streaming platforms.

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Dora Pejačević: Blumenleben (Life of Flowers), Op. 19: No. 5. Rose (Antonio Oyarzabal, piano)

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