> Rarities of Piano Music at the Husum Festival - 1993 -2000 [JF]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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  Rarities of Piano Music at the Husum Festival - 1993 -2000

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum, vol. 5
from the 1993 Festival

Vocalise op. 34 No. 14 (arr: S. Fiorentino)
Sergio Fiorentino
Zwei Klavierstucke op. 29 (1919)
Werner Bärtschi
Prelude C Major, op. 12 No. 7 (1919)
Prelude c sharp minor, op. 34 No. 10
Prelude e flat minor, op. 34 No. 14
Nina Kavtaradze
Wilhelm KEMPFF:
Lamento di Vittoria Colonna
(from the "Italian Suite" op. 68)
Trevor Smith
Ferruccio BUSONI:
Astrologo op. 33 No. 5
Ira Maria Witoschynskyj
Bagatelle op. 3 No. 2
Bagatelle op. 3 No. 3 & 4

Bernard Ringeissen
La Barcheta
Young Girls in the Garden
Stephen Hough
Navarra (op. posth.)
Enrique Perez de Guzman
Sigismund THALBERG:
Fantasy on Rossini's "Moses", op. 33
An der schönen blauen Donau
Roberto Cappello

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum vol. 6
from the 1994 Festival

Prelude, Fugue et Variation, op. 18
Igor Zhukov
Vergilbte Seiten ("Yellowed Pages") op. 31
Oleg Marshev
Nikolai MEDTNER:
Fairy Tale e-minor, op. 34 No. 2
The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol
Hamish Milne
"Two Poems in Homage to Delius"
I Rustic Idyl
II Serenade and Dance of Spring

Stephen Hough
Manuel de FALLA:
Ritual Fire Dance (from "El Amor Brujo")
"Sonatine pour Yvette" 3rd Movement: Allegretto
Enrique Perez de Guzman
Fantaisie sur des rhythmes flamenco
Paul Badura-Skoda
Sigismund THALBERG:
Fantasy on Donizetti's "Don Pasquale", op. 67
Barcarolle g-minor, op. 65 No. 6
Schorschi-Batschi (Foxtrot)
Marc-Andre Hamelin


Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum, vol. 7
from the 1995 Festival

Prestissimo agitato - (from Sonata A flat Major, Op. 7. 1810)
Anton Kuerti
Fryderyk CHOPIN:
Mazurka B flat Major (1825)
Mazurka f minor, Op. 68 No. 4 (posth. 1849)
Charles Valentin ALKAN:
"Les regrets de la nonnette" (1854)
Ronald Smith
Franz LISZT:
Canzone Napolitana (1842)
Hungarian Rhapsody No.19 (1885/1962)
Daniel Berman
- Valse caprice d' après Strauss -

Roberto Cappello
Ernö von DOHNÁNYI:
Rhapsody C Major, Op. 11 No. 3 4:23
Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy
(from The Nutcracker Op. 71 )
Philip Fowke
Vincent d'INDY:
Sonata E minor, Op. 63
Marie-Catherine Girod


Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum, vol. 8
from the 1996 Festival

Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Two Intermezzi (1934)
Kathryn Stott, piano
Sigfried KARG-ELERT (1877-1933)
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
from "4 Characteristic Pieces" (1917)
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
In Dahomey
("Cakewalk Smasher") (1903-09)
Piers Lane, piano
Radames GNÁTTALI (1906-1988)
Negaceando (chôro)
Manhosamente (chôro)
Canhoto (chôro)
Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano
Alexander GOEDIKE ( 1877- 1957)
Prelude op. 20 8:24
(after Maeterlincks "Les Aveugles")
Hamish Milne, piano
Alexander SKRJABIN (1872-1915)
24 Preludes op. 11 (1888-96)
Maurice RAVEL (1857-1937)
La Valse
Igor Shukov, piano
"Pastiche and Parody" From the Special Concert to mark the 10th Anniversary of the "Ranties of Piano Music Festival" Friday, August 16th,1996

Artur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Souvenir de Chopin (1947)
Vincent d'INDY (1851-1931)
from: Pour les Enfants de tout âge, op.74 (1919)
Peter Froundjian, piano
Alexander & Moritz MOSZKOWSKI
Anton Notenquetscher am Klavier
Parodie der Schülerszene aus Goethes "Faust" (Anläßlich der 100. Wiederkehr der Uraufführung zum 70. Geburtstag von Carl Bechstein am 2. Juni 1896)
Raimund Tabor
Peter Froundjian


Rarities of Piano Music at »Schloss vor Husum«, vol. 9
from the 1997 Festival

Hermann GOETZ (1840-1876)
Genrebilder, op. 13 (1876)
Anton Kuerti, piano
Georg Hendrik WITTE (1843-1929)
Waltzer für Klavier zu 4 Händen, op. 7
Ina Peeken & Michael Struck, pianos
Reynaldo HAHN (1875-1947)
Portraits de peintres d'après les Poésies de Marcel Proust (1894)
Jeffrey Swann, piano
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Nocturne (1890)
Pierre de BRÉVILLE (1861-1949)
Sonate (1923)
Marie-Catherine Girod, piano
Ernö von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Pastorale (1920)
Astor PIAZOLLA (1921-1992)
Trois Préludes (1987)
Kathryn Stott, piano
Anatol ALEXANDROV (1888- 1982)
Sonata No. 2, op. 12 (1918)
Yuri Martinov, piano
Franz SCHUBERT (trans. Liszt)
Ave Maria
Roberto Cappello, piano




Rarities of Piano Music at »Schloss vor Husum«, vol. 10
from the 1998 Festival
Emil von SAUER (1862-1942)
Two Concert Studies
Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b. 1932)
À la Albéniz
Oleg Marshev, piano
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Prelude and Duet from Margot la Rouge (1902) arr: Maurice Ravel
From Irmelin (1894) arr: Florent Schmitt
Prelude to Act 2.
From Prelude and Closing Scene, Act 3, Scene 1.
Interlude from Act 2: Duet and Finale from Act 3.
Piers Lane, piano
Alfred GRÜNFELD (1852-1924)
Soirée de Vienne, op. 56
Konzertparaphrase über Johann Strauss'sche Walzermotive aus Fledermaus u.a.
Franz Vorraber, piano
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in A minor, from Notre Temps (1841)
Janina Fialkowska, piano
Mili BALAKIREV(1837-1910)
Dumka (1900)
Boris Bloch, piano
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938)
Studies after Chopin's Etudes no. 7-9 (From the Black Key Etude, op. 10 no. 5
1st version (G flat major)
2nd version - Study on the white keys (C major)
3rd version - Tarantella (A minor)
The Gardens of Buitenzorg (from Java Suite (1925)

George CATOIRE (1861-1926)
Quatre Morceaux, op. 12
Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951)
Primavera, op. 39 no. 3 (from Forgotten Melodies, 2nd set)
Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Rarities of Piano Music at »Schloss vor Husum«, vol. 11
from the 1999 Festival
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Arr: Frédéric Meinders (b. 1946)
Trockne Blumen

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Arr: arr: Meinders
The Man I Love
Fascinating Rhythm
Embraceable You

Harold ARLEN (1905-1986)
Arr: Meinders
Over the Rainbow

Frédéric Meinders, piano
John CAGE (1912-1992)
In a Landscape (1948)
Alexei Ljubimov, piano
Eugen d'ALBERT (1864-1932)
Ballade b-minor, op. 16 no. 4 (1898)
Andreas Bach, piano
Sergei LIAPUNOV (1859-1924)
Sonata f-minor, op. 27 (1908)
Nicholas Walker, piano
Alexis de CASTILLON (1838-1873)
From 24 Pensées fugitives
Frederic Chiu, piano
Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942)
Arabeske, op. 29 no. 2
Vladimir Stoupel, piano





Rarities of Piano Music at »Schloss vor Husum«, vol. 12
from the 2000 Festival
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
arr: Michail Pletnev (* 1957)
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (from "The Nutcracker")
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
"Perpetuum mobile"from Sonata No 1, op. 24 - Rondo. Presto
Konstantin Scherbakov
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
arr.: Eusebius Mandyezewski (1857-1929)
"Herzlich tut mich verlangen"
(from 11 Choral Preludes for organ op. 122)
Duo Tal & Groethuysen
Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928)
On an Overgrown Path (1901/02/08)
Marc-André HAMELIN (* 1961)
Music Box
"Se tu m'ami" (Tribute to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) (from: "Con intimissimo sentimento", 2000)
Marc-André Hamelin
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Milonga del Angelo
Roberto Cominati
Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895)
Mazurka No. 4 op. 103
Francesco Libetta
Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951)
Sonata-Elegie op. 11 No. 2
Hamish Milne
Antoine MARIOTTE (1875-1944)
Sonata in F-sharp minor (1906)
Marie-Catherine Girod
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Les Chernins de l'Amour
Friedrich HOLLAENDER (1896-1976)
(Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
An allern sind die Juden schuld
Stephen SONDHEIM (1899-1963)
Les Chemins de l'Amour
Jody Karin Applebaum, soprano
Marc-André Hamelin, piano

On the CDs issued from 1993 to 2000 there are some 140 works, movements and pieces of piano music. It is fair to say that all of them are of interest to the piano specialist. What is even more important is that there is so much here that would be attractive to any lover of piano music. There is little that would be regarded as esoteric- perhaps the 'In a Landscape' by the late John Cage may fit this bill, but then again this work is not necessarily typical. Most of the music would be classified as romantic. All of it is approachable; some of it requires more effort to listen to and understand than the rest. As a testament to a great idea it is a fine recording achievement. The list of composers represented is huge and diverse - from George Gershwin to Herman Goetz; from Scriabin to Stephen Sondheim. Every CD is an adventure of discovery. I thought I had a good grasp of the literature for the piano, but there are dozens of works here that I have never heard before or were just names to me. Composers have written music that seems to belie their normal style; there are pianists who have composed their own arrangements and transcriptions of other men's music. There are composers from most of Europe and America. There are known names such as Debussy, Brahms and Chopin. There are 'cult' figures represented such as Astor Piazzolla and John Cage. There are composers known only to the cognoscenti - Eugene d'Albert, from the Gorbals in Glasgow, George Catoire, and Sergei Liapunov. And of course there are names that are hardly remembered except to a very few enthusiasts and specialists - Alfred Grunfeld and perhaps Friedrich Hollaender. This is truly an eclectic selection of music.

And the pianists are a wide-ranging bunch to. A glance at the list of pieces and their players shows the huge range of talent called upon by the festival organisers. It seems disingenuous to single out any names. What I can say is that nothing I have heard on this cycle of discs is less than perfect - a very high accolade indeed.

The Husum Sonatas.

One of the great pleasures of this series of festival recordings is the performance of rare piano sonatas. In fact there are some that I have never had the pleasure of listening to before and one I never knew existed. The Sonata in E minor by Vincent d'Indy is a case in point. This composer is probably best know for his 'Symphony on a French Mountaineer's Song' and perhaps his Variations on Istar. Yet d'Indy, who was born in 1851 was a prolific composer; including a number of operas, two symphonies and a number of chamber works in his catalogue.

The programme notes points out that the 'big' piano sonata is not a feature of late nineteenth and twentieth century French music; it notes Dukas' essay in Eb and Charles Alkan's Grande Sonata of 1847. So in some ways d'Indy's work really is a rarity. It was composed in 1907 and has all the hallmarks of the composer's style that relied heavily on Wagner's Ring Cycle and the works of the Belgian Cesar Frank. It is not the place to do a full analysis of this fine work, save to point out that it is in three movements, sounds extremely complex, the score often using three staves, and having many internal cross references. It is a highly chromatic work and often makes use of seemingly artificial scales. Naturally Marie-Catherine Girod brings her considerable gifts to this very attractive and long neglected work. Yet somehow I think this sonata will always be the preserve of the enthusiast and that I suppose is a pity.

However, in spite of the fact that few French piano sonatas have been composed, we are given the pleasure of hearing the 'fresh and spontaneous' Sonata in Db by Pierre de Breville. Breville was born in 1861 and studied with both Cesar Frank and Theodore Dubois. He combined his interest in composition with a teaching post at the Schola Cantorum and musical criticism for the Mercure de France. His greatest work appears to have been the opera, Eros Vainquer. However there are a number of works given in the reference books including chamber works, church pieces and piano and organ pieces. He died in 1949.

The present Sonata is an excellent example of de Breville's refined style. It is not a criticism to point out the stylistic references to Franck and perhaps Debussy. This is a single movement work lasting a bit over quarter of an hour, yet into this relatively short time the composer is able to present a huge variety of interesting and attractive music. Perhaps it is possible to argue that the composer's style is a little 'retro' for the sonata's date of 1923? However this is an enjoyable work and such stylistic references seem hardly to matter. One again this is a sonata for the specialist, yet it seems pity that music of such consummate skill should be relegated to the 'hidden' category of musical endeavour.

It is good to see the music of Sergei Lyapunov beginning to make an appearance in the record catalogue. I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the composer's 1st Symphony and his 2nd Piano Concerto on a Chandos release [CHAN 9808] An earlier release of piano music recorded by Anthony Goldstone on Olympia [OCD 688] was well received.

There is an immediate debt to Franz Liszt's Piano Sonata obvious from even a cursory hearing of this one movement work. Apparently Lyapunov never met the master, yet the influence and inspiration is clear. The Russian even produced a further Twelve Transcendental Studies to add to Liszt's dozen! Lyapunov used the keys that had been ignored by the master.

Once again it is fair to say that the Liszt Sonata in B minor had a huge influence on Russian music as a whole. Lyapunov was himself inspired by this masterpiece even thought it had been written nearly half a century before. The whole sonata seems to be an echo of it. However, this is not a criticism - it is lovely to have such a generous compliment to the Hungarian available to us on disc. It is perhaps Lyapunov's most ambitious work, if not the longest. It is a single movement work, yet it is really composed in extended sonata form. There is the usual exposition, development, recapitulation and coda. Yet somehow the overall effect is that of a typical four-movement sonata. The composer certainly ties the whole work together with constant cross-referencing of themes and motives.

This is truly great music that deserves to stand beside the sonata of the more famous composer. It is a fine tribute to Lyapunov's hero. And the playing by Nicolas Walker is superb. This is a difficult work that has great technical demands.

For information about the stupendous Sonata in F# minor by Antonie Mariotte I am wholly indebted to the excellent sleeve notes provided by Danacord. I have been unable to find anything about this composer and his music in my 'usual sources.'

Mariotte was born in Avignon in 1875 and was after education was a naval officer until 1897. After leaving the navy he studied with Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum. He turned his mind towards conducting and teaching rather than composition. He was conductor of the St Etienne Orchestra, professor of music at the Lyon and Orleans conservatories and director of the Opera-comique in Paris. There is even a whiff of musical scandal associated with Mariotte. He wrote a number of operas, one of which was called Salome. He was accused of having plagiarized the more famous version of this story by Richard Strauss. However, it later turned out that Mariotte had composed his opera before the German!

The Piano Sonata in F# minor is a fine piece of music. Although owing much to Franck and to d'Indy it is apparently the composer's true voice. There are echoes of a whole raft of Romantic composers in these pages - John field, Chopin and perhaps even Ravel in the last movement. Yet nowhere does this music become pastiche. It stands well in its own right and like so much music on these CDs deserves to be heard and appreciated by a wider audience. This is a beautiful work that should be precious to all those who love the piano and the romantic piano in particular. I am delighted that Marie Catherine Girod has added this work to her repertoire.

Anatol Alexandrov is another one of those composers who are well and truly overshadowed by Rachmaninov and Scriabin. Recently Hyperion has issued a CD [CDA67328] of music by this long neglected composer. So it is good that an interest is beginning to be taken in his works. Writer of operas, film music and a number of songs, it appears that his piano sonatas are the key to his works. There are some fourteen of them. The Sonata No.2 Op.12 was composed in 1918. It is quite a short work lasting some ten minutes and is very much in the style of Scriabin' later sonatas. However it is clear to see the influence of Nicolas Medtner and Rachmaninov. The pianist, Yuri Martinov has to cope with considerable technical difficulties and the writing is always virtusosic. This is music that is interesting and attractive. It deserves a good and concentrated hearing. This sonata is not included in the recent Hyperion release.

British Works

Perhaps rather unusually there are a number of British pieces of piano music or at least deriving from the British Commonwealth. More often than not British music seems to be left out of piano recital programmes, unless it is one of John Ireland's better-known works.

There are two arrangements of Delius played by Piers Lane. The Prelude and Duet from Margot La Rouge make interesting and attractive listening. These two movements were arranged by none other than Maurice Ravel! The other Delius piece is the Prelude from Act 2 of Irmelin. Florent Schmidt arranged this and once again it is a perfect fusion of original and arranger.

These transcriptions contrast well with the two pieces by Stephen Reynolds - Two Poems in Homage to Delius. These were played at the 1994 festival by Stephen Hough. They were, according to the composer, written as a relaxation from the dissonant and experimental music he was composing at that time. The listener is left wondering which path the composer would have been better following. They are certainly interesting, romantic pieces that do justice to both the composer and to Delius.

The 1994 festival also contained the well know Sussex Mummers' Carol by the Australian Percy Grainger. As with all this unique composer's music it is a joy and a pleasure to listen to Hamish Milne's rendition of it. A further gem by Grainger is played with panache in the 1996 festival - In Dahomey ("Cakewalk Smasher") It is in fact a ragtime piece written by the composer in 1909. However it had to wait until 1987 before it was published. By Piers Lane's rendition of the work it was well worth the wait!

Frank Bridge, who wrote much piano music, is represented with one of his 'Characteristic Pieces - Fragrance' Bridge wrote much 'light' or 'salon' music before the Great War. After the war his muse turned to a more dissonant and intense style. However, this piece is a fine example of the earlier efforts. It is well played by Piers Lane and perhaps invites listeners to explore the Bridge corpus.

Transcriptions and Arrangements

I have never really been a big fan of piano transcription; I do not know why. I think perhaps that it is something to do with a denial of originality. There is something more satisfying about an original work. However, since reviewing a number of discs over the last two years I have begun to reconsider my thoughts about this particular art. This is not the place to examine the aesthetics of arrangement and transcription; suffice to say that I have come to understand that the sheer pianism of a work, whether original or transcribed from another medium or from another composer's pen is an end in itself. If these works are enjoyed rather than picked over with dubious critical tools it will be seen that there is a great pile of exciting, interesting and technically competent music that deserves to be played, listened to and understood. I have come to see that transcription is an art form in its own right and not just self-indulgent cribbing.

First of all a few definitions: Transcription & Arrangements It is the translation of a musical work or part of a musical work from one musical medium into another. To give an example, Franz Liszt's piano reworking of Schubert's song. Or perhaps Stowkowski's reworking of Bach Organ music for orchestra. It has a noble lineage. Bach himself indulged in making arrangements of his own music and that of other composers. Brahms and Beethoven also made arrangements of their orchestral works. We must remember however, that a good arrangement or transcription does not copy note for note and chord for chord, but it tries to adapt the original music to characteristics of the new instrument. But here lies the rub. Many arrangers and transcribers have gone over the score. The original work can disappear under a hail of scales, cascades and to mix metaphors pianistic pyrotechnics. This perhaps is the semantic difference between arrangement and transcription. The arrangement preserves as much of the original effect and detail as possible for the new instrument, whereas a transcription can be freer and more creative. A moot point indeed.

The discs from the Husum Festivals are chock full of piano arrangements and transcriptions. All of them are well played and most of them are attractive examples of the genre. It is only possible too consider some of the highlight and to mention a few other examples. One of Enrique Perez de Guzman' encores is the piano version of Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo. This is quite definitely a warhorse and a well played one at that. It sounds phenomenally difficult.

Of course it is the transcriptions of Sigismund Thalberg that are almost defining in the literature of operatic transcription In fact in his day he was often set up beside Liszt himself as a master of this art. The 1994 CD gives an excellent performance of his Grande Fantasie sur des motifs de l'opera 'Don Pasquale' de Donizetti. This is a work that the composer himself regarded as exceptionally good. It is played to effect by Marc-Andre Hamlin. The previous year had Thalberg's Fantasy on Rossini's 'Moses' in the programme. It is nice that these once feted works are gradually finding their way back into the repertoire.

Of a more modern vintage are the transcriptions by Frederic Meinders of Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Schubert. These are masterly works in their own right. The sleeve notes relate that Meinders is a bit of a showman; he played the Schubert pieces 'replete with tattoos and piercings' and the Gershwin in 'leathers and studs.'

The 2000 Festival gave us the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy arranged by Michail Pletnev. This contrast well with same dance transcribed by Philip Fowke from 1995 that is somewhat lighter hearted.

Slightly more esoteric perhaps but equally enjoyable is the arrangement by Eusebius Mandyczewski of Brahms organ prelude 'Herzlich tut mich verlangen.' This piece is now for four hands and is played by Yaara Tal and Andrea Groethuysen.

What can I say? Look at the listings of works and the pianists at the top of this review. That seems to say it all. It is the sort of collection that I am afraid I could not make a selection of one of two discs - I would have to have the entire series! What we have in this record of the Husum festival is a conspectus of piano music written over the last 250 years, with especial emphasis on the romantic. Late nineteenth and twentieth century composers are best represented.

There are big names and lesser-known composers. But all have composed music that is attractive, memorable, often exciting, sometimes moving but always interesting. It is invariably played to perfection. One could write so much more about the pieces on these discs. But I will leave you with the selected thought outlined above. These are CDs to be explored and savoured. Let us hope the festival at Husum continues for many, many more years.

Magnificent. Essential listening. A whole catalogue of lesser-known music that deserves to be heard by the musical public. And what is more all the artists further the cause of these little know works by their skill and aplomb at the keyboard. Great stuff indeed. Buy the lot!

John France

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