Notes and Editorial Reviews
"The DVD features an almost all-Latin American composer-based program performed in Shanghai, China. The front cover reads, “Music knows no frontiers.” Surely this is a marketing gimmick, and perhaps if the soloist were a less compelling guide, one that would work far less well than it does here. Throughout the recital, Katsaris plays music of contrasting textures and colors, from Nazareth’s rhythmic and sparkling Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho! to Villa-Lobos’s jazzy Coral to Campos’s more sentimental setting of the popular song La Paloma. The program has a wonderful sense of flow because of all of the different styles, textures, harmonic patterns, and characters that this music offers. Unfortunately, this recital also has its weaknesses.
Before the introduction of each new composer, the pianist talks for what sometimes seems an eternity. Katsaris speaks first in English, then French, finally giving way to a translator (or two) to reinterpret the information. Though some of the information that he gives is fascinating in its own right, there is a time and a place for everything; a detailed program booklet or a commentary section at the end of the DVD would have done very nicely. Interestingly, and perhaps questionably, the pianist ends his recital with two encores: the Schumann Arabeske and the Chopin C?-Minor Waltz. As the recital is built completely on Latin-American music, the choices seem odd, though both pieces are well played. The Chopin, in particular, is interesting in terms of voicings: if one enjoys the type of interest in the inner parts which Godowsky, Cherkassky, Horowitz, or Gould often highlighted in their playing, then this interpretation will surely satisfy.
The DVD is highly enjoyable to watch, as long as one keeps the fast-forward button on the remote control under one’s fingers. The music is so engaging, though, that even with all the commentary, there is so much good music that one might never get the chance to hear, in performances that will in some cases knock your socks off, that this little quibble shouldn’t stop you from going out and grabbing this DVD. You won’t be disappointed!"
FANFARE: Scott Noriega
Cyprien Katsaris has the looks of Dan Leno and the ingratiating charm of a boulevardier. He also possesses digital brilliance, and demonstrates the fact in this Latin-American programme filmed in recital at Shanghai Conservatory of Music on 2 October 2007.
What panache, what bravura! Certainly, an entire programme of pieces by Pablo Chávez Aguilar, Augustín Barrios Mangore, Ernesto Nazareth, Ignacio Cervantes and the like — and the like also takes in Ernesto Elorduy and Rubén Campos and others — may not appeal to sober sides who want their regulation three sonatas and high-minded encores. Katsaris can do that, too, but not here. Here the accent is on the positive, on the intriguing, and the exotically spiced. The recital was structured around various Latin American countries, from Peru, to Paraguay, then onto Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, and finally Mexico.
Each set of pieces is prefaced by a talk to audience from the pianist, microphone in hand, in English and then his native French. A voiceover sometimes aids things for the viewer, and sometimes hinders. A translator, dressed in crimson, translates his introductions into Chinese. Sometimes they confer about matters linguistic and hammer out an appropriate phrase. The opening speech is long, around seven minutes, so you may be tempted to fast forward to the music. You’d thereby lose the intimacy and charm of those distillation introductions that do tell one quite a bit about the music and the pianist’s thoughts on it.
The recital was divided into two parts. In the first there was, amongst much else by these composers, Aguilar’s fascinating
Preludios Incaicos, replete with dazzling quasi-chinoiserie, Villa-Lobos’ stirring
Coral (beautifully played) and Nazareth’s
Odeon dispatched with true virtuosity but also a whimsical enjoyment of its charm. Highlights of the second part include Ginastera’s haunting, and hauntingly played,
Danza Argentina No.2 and the tristesse purveyed by Piazzolla’s
Chiquilin de Bachin. Katsaris also supplies his own free translation of Gerardo Matos Rodriguez’s
La Cumparsita, a virtuosic piece of drama. He is so taken by Ponce’s lovely
Intermezzo, or so taken by something someone in the audience says, that Katsaris briefly banters with them. He has a populist touch and the repertoire encourages emotional repartee like this. Stay to the end, where you’ll find José Antonio Gomez’s
Variaciones sobre el Tema del Jarabe Mexicano distilled and driven onward in a blur of pianistic brilliance.
He plays two encores, remarkably European: Schumann’s Arabeske and Chopin’s Waltz in C sharp minor.
This recital combines drama, virtuosity, poetry and a highly personalised sense of barnstorming. Some may well consider the repertoire rather ‘samey’ but I find sufficient contrast. I also find the playing spectacular, and often breathtaking. The only demerit concerns the picture quality, and lighting, which is not that well defined, and being rather grainy, lacks clarity.
If you look, and listen, beyond that, though, there is a dazzler of a recital here.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
AGUILAR: 4 Preludios Incaicos • BARRIOS: Chôro de Saudade • VILLA-LOBOS: Coral • Aria • Alma Brasileira • NAZARETH: Odeon • Turbilhâo de Beijos • Nove de Julho • Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho! • CERVANTES: Soledad • Adiós a Cuba • GINASTERA: Danza Argentina No. 2 • PIAZZOLLA: La Misma Pena • Milonga en Ay Menor • Guardia Nueva • Chiquilin de Bachin • Milonga del Ángel • MATOS: La Cumparsita • ELORDUY: Tropicales • FLACCHEBBA: Danza Criolla • PONCE: Intermezzo • CAMPOS: 6 Popular Airs • Cancion Mexicana • El Aguanieve • La Paloma • Cielito Lindo • Son Michoacano
Works on This Recording
Preludios Incaicos (4) by Pablo Chávez Aguilar
Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1927; Peru
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