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Transcriptions / Grau Schumacher Piano Duo

Transcriptions / Various
Release Date: 07/02/2013 
Label:  Neos   Catalog #: 20903   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Claude DebussyCamille Saint-SaënsRichard WagnerSergei Rachmaninov,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Clearly articulated, rich in striking dynamic contrast, flowing and full of character.

Neos prides itself in releasing a wealth of interesting repertoire. I have especially enjoyed recordings in their Mieczyslaw Weinberg series, the Manfred Trojahn string quartets by the Henschel Quartet and Helmut Lachenmann's string quartets from the Stadler Quartet.

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the present disc. I certainly have not been disappointed as the marvellous performances have more than lived up to my expectations.

For those who are not familiar with the art of the transcription. Perhaps a short explanation will prove helpful. Before gramophone records, radio broadcasts and
Read more miniature scores were available save for attending an actual performance, music-lovers only had access to orchestral and operatic scores in pared down arrangements principally for the piano for performance in the drawing room or salon. Sometimes known as piano reductions Liszt was the undisputed master of the art making numerous arrangements of songs, operas and symphonies. He mainly championed the music of those contemporaries that were in vogue or whom he felt deserved attention. Transcriptions and arrangements, the lifeblood of many virtuoso performers in Liszt’s day, were also prepared for solo instruments other than the piano such as the violin and cello. Although providing no financial profit to the original composer transcriptions served to assist the dissemination of their scores to a wider audience. Liszt was probably the best known transcriber and amongst others Leopold Stokowski was famous for transcribing mainly two-hundred smaller forms for large orchestral forces. A substantial number of these were transcriptions of J. S. Bach’s keyboard works.

Here the GrauSchumacher perform eight transcriptions, seven of which are for two pianos with the remaining Ravel score is for one piano four hands.

The disc opens with a short and attractive transcription by renowned pianist Dame Myra Hess. It is of J.S. Bach’s Jesus bleibet meine Freude ( Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring) the chorale prelude from Cantata BVW 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben ( Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life). Hess also transcribed it for single piano and for piano four hands. A favourite in performance the scores would have been used by Hess in concert sometimes playing piano duo often with her friend Irene Scharrer. Debussy’s perennially popular Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, inspired by the poem by Stéphane Mallarmé is sensitively presented in the composer’s own transcription. The Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra that Saint-Saëns wrote for Pablo de Sarasate is presented in Debussy’s transcription. It was that inveterate transcriber Ferruccio Busoni who prepared the overture to Mozart’s enchanting opera The Magic Flute. The Prelude from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde was transcribed by Max Reger who was another enthusiastic user of the form. Victor Babin is responsible for versions of both Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from his ballet Swan Lake. For many years Babin formed a well known piano duo with Vitya Vronsky. These transcriptions would no doubt have served them well. Probably the most unlikely transcription is that completed by Ravel for piano four hands of his own Boléro. This single movement showpiece might at first sight seem unsuitable for such reduction with the loss of significant orchestral colour being a major factor. Yet surprisingly it works marvellously well.

Lithe and fresh in the Saint-Saëns, tender in the Rachmaninov and resilient and expressive in the Wagner, the duo provide a compelling case for this collection. The performances are clearly articulated, rich in striking dynamic contrast, flowing and full of character. Recorded in the Studio of SWR Stuttgart I loved the crystal clear and well balanced sound.

-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 8 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 9 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Tristan and Isolde: Prelude by Richard Wagner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 8 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Swan Lake, Op. 20: no 2, Act 1 - Valse by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 8 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Venue:  Funkstudio, SWR Stuttgart 
Length: 14 Minutes 42 Secs. 

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