Polk has been an advocate of female composers for many years. This is her first CD for the Steinway label, and it is tip to the high standards I have come to expect: superior sound, excellent booklet, repertoire a little outside of the mainstream, and of course, brilliant pianism.
The Piano Sonata is a wonderful composition, inventive and well-constructed to be sure, but a solid and satisfying romantic piano work. We tend to view Chaminade through the lens of the small piece. Polk, based on her performance here, would be completely at home with any of the piano sonatas by the great romantic composers. Her technique and interpretive abilities bring Chaminade’s sonata to life in 17 pleasant minutes. It should be heard far more often.
The Etudes display a wide range of piano techniques and are akin to the concert-level etudes by Chopin and Liszt. These are not run-of-the-mill piano exercises. Chaminade was a melodist as well as an excellent pianist, and that’s what sets her etudes above most. It takes someone of Polk’s abilities to bring these off. The character pieces lighten the mood effectively and round off this exceptional program.