Notes and Editorial Reviews
An excellent CD for all enthusiasts of romantic piano music.
One of the great pleasures of listening to any one of the volumes of the Rarities from the Festival of Piano Music at Husum is the sheer variety of music that is presented. There are various depths of interest – for example, unknown works from well-known composers, arrangements and transcriptions of popular pieces reworked and remade by the pianists themselves and finally rarities by composers who have barely made a mark on the standard repertoire. On this present disc, the only pieces I can claim to know (as presented) is the extract from Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s’ rarely played Sonata No. 2 in E major and the Mazurka’s by Karol Szymanowski. Every other piece
was, for me at least, a novelty.
The work that most impressed me was the wonderful Improvisations on Themes from Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’, which was realised by the Swedish pianist Roland Pöntinen. It is based on tunes written for that film by the great Italian composer Nino Rota. This is a fine interpretation of what is fundamentally romantic music, with the added spice making for considerable interest.
The pianists on this CD come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Daniel Berman is a ‘house’ pianist of Danacord and has appeared on a number of Husum discs. He has recorded an album of rarities that include George Gershwin’s - Grand Fantasy on Airs from Porgy and Bess arranged by Earl Wild. The rarely hear Godowsky arrangement of the Sarabande by Jean Baptiste Lully makes a fine start to this CD. This is followed by an attractive Russian Song by Nikolai Rakov and a seriously impressive piece from ‘Sunny Spain’ called Sevillana by Manuel Infante.
Koji Attwood does not appear to have a CD in the record shops, although he does feature on YouTube. The two pieces in his recital recorded here are arranged by the pianist. Especially welcome is the fine rendition of the universally-known guitar piece Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega.
The French pianist Denis Pascal gives an impressive account of the surprisingly rarely heard Toccata by Franz Liszt. This is a very difficult study in tremolos and arpeggios. Great stuff! It is followed by a beautiful Albumblatt by the Austrian composer Joseph Marx. Pascal’s contribution concludes with a ‘relaxed cafe-style waltz’ called Java by Jean Wiéner. It is pastiche, yes, but there is nothing wrong with that! I would certainly like to hear the Polka and the Tango from the same suite of three pieces.
Peter Jablonski was born in Sweden and has a world-wide career, including recital and concert tours of Mexico and Taipei. His repertoire is significant and he has recorded a large number of impressive CDs. The two Mazurkas by Karol Szymanowski are particularly welcome in this recital.
I was particularly impressed by Peter Froundjian’s contributions to this disc. Alexander von Zemlinsky’s gorgeous Liebe which is the first of a series of Fantasies on Poems by Richard Dehmel is both beautiful and absorbing. The high-romanticism of this piece is tinged with something just that little bit disturbing. The slow movement from Korngold’s Sonata No. 2 in E is a work that deserves it place in the repertoire – even if that standing is a little too shaky for comfort. Froundjian concludes his recital with a short but technically impossible sounding Prelude by Ignaz Friedman. There is much here that nods to Chopin but never falls into simple parody.
Friedman is represented by two more short pieces played by Roland Pöntinen. The Masque Galante is a little waltz which is followed by the humorous scherzo-like Arlequinade. The liner notes point out that the “inner melody is marked ‘quasi cello’ and ‘buffonesco’ (zany or buffoonish).” These interesting and largely sophisticated works suggest that a revival of Friedman's music is long overdue.
The last part of this disc is dominated by a long impressionistic piece called Cipressi by the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo–Tedesco. This is fundamentally a nature-study, for it was inspired by the tree-lined avenues found in the Lari region of Tuscany, although it does not need this picture to appreciate the fine music. It may well be the most important piece on this CD: a rare masterpiece. Marc-André Hamelin plays this music with style and concentration. If this work had been by Debussy or Ravel there would have been some four-dozen recordings available. As there is this are only two others in the Arkiv catalogue.
Hamelin concludes his recital and the CD with three arrangements or paraphrases of songs by Charles Trenet – En avril, à Paris Coin de rue and finally Boum! The first is a ‘languid’ waltz that reminds the listener of a Paris that largely vanished before the last war. The ‘Corner of the Street’ is another waltz, but this time it is memories of the composer’s childhood that inform the music. And finally Boum is just pure fun. It is useful to recall that Weissenberg did not just ‘arrange’ these song for piano solo – he “creatively paraphrased them.” They are to the cafe music of the nineteen-thirties and forties what Godowsky was to Strauss Waltzes in a previous generation.
As always, with the Danacord Husum productions, the liner notes are comprehensive: there is virtually a major essay provided for each piece. There is no excuse for not being able to understand the composer’s thoughts. The quality of the sound is excellent and the producer has chosen to leave a few seconds of the audience’s reactions. It adds to the atmosphere of the live performance. This is an excellent CD for all enthusiasts of romantic piano music.
-- John France, MusicWeb International
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) arr. Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)
Sarabande in E minor (1906) [4:18]
Nikolai Rakov (1908-1990) arr. Grigory Ginzburg (1904-1961)
Russian Song [1:55]
Manuel Infante (1883-1958)
Sevillana (1922) [6:41]
Daniel Berman (piano)
Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) arr. Attwood
Recuerdos de la Alhambra (1896) [3:54]
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) arr. Attwood
Les berceaux (1879) [2:51]
Koji Attwood (piano)
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Toccata (c. 1879), S. 197a [1:12]
Joseph Marx (1882-1964)
Albumblatt (1916) [3:59]
Jean Wiéner (1896-1982)
Java (1957) [2:32]
Denis Pascal (piano)
Adolf Wiklund (1879-1950)
Från mitt fönster No.6 – I tankar (1926) [2:07]
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 2 (1924) [2:23]; Mazurka, Op.50 No.3 (1924) [2:18] Peter Jablonski (piano)
Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942)
Liebe, Op. 9 No. 3 (1898) [3:06]
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
Sonata No. 2 in E, Op. 2, 3rd movt. Largo, con dolore (1910) [5:39]
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Prelude, Op. 96 No. 3 (1940) [1:17]
Peter Froundjian (piano)
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Masque galante (?) Op. 81 No. 2 (?) [1:39]; Arlequinade, Op. 81 No. 3 [3:20]
Nino Rota arr. Pöntinen
Improvisations on themes from Fellini's "Amarcord" (1973) [8:48]
Roland Pöntinen (piano)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Cipressi, Op. 17 (1920) [8:13]
Charles Trenet (1913-2001) arr. Alexis Weissenberg (b. 1929)
En avril, à Paris (1953) [3:11]; Coin de rue (1954) [3:05]; Boum! (1938) [3:11]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
rec. 16-23 August 2008, Schloss vor Husum, Germany
Works on This Recording
Sarabande by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Daniel Berman (Piano)
Notes: Arranged: Leopold Godowsky
Java by Jean Wiéner
Denis Pascal (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Cipressi, Op. 17 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920/1939; Italy
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