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Piano Rarities Vol 2: Compositeurs Francais / Cyprien Katsaris


Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Piano 21   Catalog #: 37  
Composer:  René BerthelotAmedee MereauxDéodat de SévéracNoël Gallon,   ... 
Performer:  Cyprien KatsarisFrançois-Joël ThiollierFrank BraleyAlexei Volodin
Conductor:  Yoon K. Lee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Chamber Soloists
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PIANO RARITIES, VOLUME 2: FRENCH COMPOSERS Cyprien Katsaris (pn); Frank Braley, François-Joël Thiollier, Alexei Volodin (pn); Yoon Kuk Lee, cond; Salzburg CP Soloists PIANO 21 P21 037-N (78:35)


Selections by MÉREAUX, SÉVÉRAC, NOËL-GALLON, GALLON, PLÉ-CAUSSADE, DAMASE, LAUBRY, TARDIEN, BERTHELOT, WIENER, LAVIGNAC, KATSARIS, SOGNY, BLET, CLAOUÉ


For all his commitment to the canon, the ever-inventive Read more Cyprien Katsaris has a wild, exploratory streak as well—and on this sampler he gathers 23 pieces, few of which (except perhaps for the Sévérac) even piano mavens are likely to know. On the whole, the collection is light—occasionally in terms of its technical demands, more often in terms of its spirit, which is for the most part flashy, whimsical, and nostalgic in turn. Highlights? Pride of place goes to the clutch of etudes by Amédée Méreaux (1802–72). In his interview in Fanfare 31:4, Katsaris described Méreaux as “a French composer of the 19th century, who played four hands with Chopin, and who wrote the most difficult etudes ever in the history of the piano literature.” Part of the point of recording them was “to demonstrate to my good friend Marc-André Hamelin that he was wrong when he stated in an interview that those pieces are musically uninteresting”—and certainly, these dazzling and challenging selections from a collection published in 1855 make a solid case for this forgotten virtuoso repertoire. Granted, it would be hard to call this music strikingly original; Méreaux was no Alkan. Still, David Charlton’s description in Grove (“Méreaux’s compositions for piano appear unoriginal; they are predominantly influenced by Chopin and at times approach salon music”) has little relationship to the five pieces heard here. No. 8—a furious onslaught—would certainly break the china (and perhaps the piano, too) at any salon gathering; No. 13 has a smoldering darkness and passion that demand attention; and even the sweeter Nocturne (No. 22), with its slightly Gottschalky flavor, keeps us off balance with its tricky accompaniments.


But there’s plenty to keep you interested elsewhere as well. Some of it, as I’ve said, is quirky: Lavignac’s daffy Galop-March for eight hands at a single piano; Jean Wiener’s sardonic, self-consciously off-kilter Polka lente . Some of it is sweetly introspective: Jean-Michel Damase’s evocatively Fauréen Dédicace ; Jacob Tardien’s redolent Pièce pour piano , aptly praised in Christian Lorandin’s excellent notes for its “enigmatic sorrow.” Some of it is high-spirited: Katsaris’s own joyful and virtuosic improvisation on tunes you know well is especially infectious. All of it is worth knowing.


Oddly, in a kind of reverse-encore effect, the last three pieces are the most substantial—simultaneously the longest (except for Katsaris’s own improvisation) and the most intellectually demanding. Réminiscentiel by Michel Sogny (b. 1947) is a superficially simple, but vaguely troubling reminiscence that looks back to early 20th-century French style, with a slight twist of Rachmaninoff. Blet’s sonata, dedicated to Katsaris, alternates probing passages that take their inspiration from Scriabin and (as Lorandin’s notes remind us) early Berg, with driving, jazz-inflected passages that may bring Kapustin to mind. Yves Claoué’s 1998 Rengua-2 is, musically, the knottiest piece on the disc. Learning that it is inspired by Mozart may lead you to expect a postmodern pastiche or even a dash of neoclassicism; in fact, though, it inhabits a late modernist world somewhere between Bartók and even early Penderecki. It’s an odd choice as a closer, but you won’t regret its presence.


Whether in the superb voicing of the Polka lente or the elegance of the Sévérac (where he manages to evoke the impression of a music box without turning mechanical) or the staggering repeated notes in Méreaux’s Etude No. 2, Katsaris plays everything with the brio, wit, and flexibility required; the sound, from a variety of sessions (including some live performances) in a variety of venues, is never less than adequate. It’s hard to imagine a pianophile who won’t be entranced.


FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

1. Valse lointaine by René Berthelot
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
2. Grandes études en caprices caractérisques dans le style libre et dans le style sévère: Excerpt(s) by Amedee Mereaux
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
3. Où l’on entend une vielle boite à musique by Déodat de Sévérac
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
4. Le petit mendiant by Noël Gallon
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
5. Thème varié by Noël Gallon
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
6. Le chant du pâtre by Simone Plé-Caussade
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
7. Dédicace by Jean-Michel Damase
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
8. Prelude no 4 by Jean-Jacques Laubry
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
9. Pièce pour piano by Jacob Tardien
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
10. Java by Jean Wiéner
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
11. Polke lente by Jean Wiéner
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; France 
12. Études pour piano dans le style hongrois: Excerpt(s) by Michel Sogny
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
13. Sonata "Renaissance" by Stéphane Blet
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
14. Galop-Marche by Albert Lavignac
Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier (Piano), Cyprien Katsaris (Piano), Frank Braley (Piano),
Alexei Volodin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
15. Improvisation on "Feuilles mortes" by Cyprien Katsaris
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
16. Rengua-2 by Yves Claoué
Performer:  Cyprien Katsaris (Piano)
Conductor:  Yoon K. Lee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Chamber Soloists

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