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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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For The Fun Of It All
Richard ADDINSELL (1904 -1977)
Warsaw Concerto (1941) [7.56]
Frederick CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Variations on Mozart’s ‘La ci darem la mano’ Op.2 (1828) [15.38]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Rhapsody in Blue (complete restored version) (1924) [16.18]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Caprice - Valse Op.76 ‘Wedding Cake’ (1885) [6.06]
Paul TUROK (b.1929)

Ragtime Caprice Op.65 (1976)[9.01]
Carl Maria von WEBER/arr LISZT

Polacca brillante Op.72 (1819/1851)[8.45]
Henri LITOLFF (1818-1891)

Scherzo from Concerto symphonique Op.102 (1852) [7.00]
Joshua Pierce (piano)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava/Kirk Trevor
recorded in 2001
KLEOS CLASSICS KL 5124 [70.42]


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A fair degree of froth, as the title implies, never did anyone any harm, and this is a pleasant disc to have on - surprising how after a while one takes the solo pianist’s virtuosity for granted. Joshua Pierce’s playing is stylish, squeaky-clean with showers of notes pouring from the whole range of the keyboard. This spans from Addinsell’s concerto, which was used as a basis for the soundtrack of that highly unmemorable film ‘Dangerous Moonlight’, on to Chopin’s fairly unsubtle but tuneful variations on a theme from the duet between Giovanni and Zerlina from Don Giovanni, and then the inevitable Gershwin. The version here of his Rhapsody in Blue is billed as ‘complete and restored’. It gets an uninhibited performance from Bratislava’s players, who wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near its ‘decadence’ 15 years ago. Listening to it, one wonders why Gershwin was so keen to study with others when he was so brilliant himself. Ravel, when he got an answer to his question asking how much Gershwin earned, responded ‘I should be studying with you’, while Schoenberg refused him with the priceless comment, ‘you write such fine Gershwin; if you worked with me you’d just write bad Schoenberg’.

Saint-Saëns was himself no mean pianist as this cheery waltz demonstrates. It was a wedding present for his duo-pianist partner Caroline Montigne-Rémaury and sparkles from beginning to its very fast end - a good waltz tune too. Another Caprice follows, this time worlds apart from the sophistication of 19th century Parisian society. This is a sexy ragtime by the American composer Paul Turok, whose pedigree is impressive in a range of compositions from music for unaccompanied violin to an opera on Richard III. This Caprice may owe much to Scott Joplin but it also shows considerable skills in its colourful orchestration. Even the cartoon music preceding its final stripshow-like section and mad dash to the finishing line will impress. Liszt’s paraphrase on Weber’s music takes a while to get going after its moody orchestral introduction, but finally erupts into a whirling waltz making huge demands on the soloist. A selection like this would not be complete without the famous scherzo from the fourth of Litolff’s symphonic piano concertos, and it makes a fitting conclusion to this hugely enjoyable disc with its infectiously familiar tune. It may sound easy but Pierce is a fine pianist with both prodigious technique and stylish skill.

Christopher Fifield

 



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