Sunday 29 October 2017

A composer who somehow slipped through the cracks: Erik Lotichius's virtuosic piano preludes, Anaitalrax

Erik Lotichius - Anaitiralax - Solaire Records
Erik Lotichius Anaitalrax; Ralph van Raat; Solaire Records
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Oct 13 2017 Star rating: 4.0
Inspired by Domenico Scarlatti, 25 piano preludes from the Dutch contemporary composer whose work is starting to be rediscovered

Erik Lotichius is a Dutch composer whose name was entirely new to me. On this two disc set from Solaire Records the pianist Ralph van Raat plays Lotichius' Anaitalrax, 25 virtuosic piano studies inspired by Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas.

Lotichius studied at Amsterdam Conservatory, but for much of his career his composition was rather marginalised, his tonal music out of fashion. More recently his music has been rediscovered and though Ralph van Raat has recorded some of Anaitalrax before, this is the cycle's first complete recording. It should be noted that strictly, Anaitalrax has 24 movements but one, number 16, exists in two very different versions so after the cycle of 24, van Raat plays 16bis.

The pieces were written between 1983 and 2013 and they reflect Lotichius' love of musical structure and form, inspired by the music of Domenico Scarlatti. The individual movements might reflect Lotichius love of classical form and structure, with his use of strict treatments such as inversion, retrograde, expansion and contraction, but woven into the music are also references to jazz and other musical styles. Again we can see the links to Scarlatti whose sonatas combine strict forms with freedom of inspiration and a sense of his Spanish environs. The results in the cast of Anaitiralax are eclectic, deliberately so, and rather intriguing.

The individual movements were written under no pressure of time or deadline, simply as the inspiration took the composer, and this feeling of joyous freedom shows in the pieces. Ralph van Raat brings a nice freedom to the music, it sounds more spontaneous than you might think given Lotichius fondness for closely defined structures. Ralph van Raat is an excellent guide through the pieces, and whilst Lotichius intended the music to be accessible to all pianists, some pieces are technically challenging.

The CD booklet contains an good series of articles on the music, on the recording and on Erik Lotichius himself. This disc is an excellent introduction to a composer who seems to have rather slipped through the cracks.

Erik Lotichius (born 1929) - Anaitalrax (1983-2013)
Ralph van Raat (piano)
Recorded 26-29 September 2016, Reitstadel, Neumarkt .i. Oberpfalz
Available from Amazon.

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