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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Édouard Risler (1873-1929): The Complete Recordings
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)

Pièces de clavecin; Le Rappel des oiseaux and Le Tambourin
Louis-Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772)

Pièces de clavecin; Le Coucou
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)

Le Tic-toc-choc ou les maillotins
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata No.18 in E flat Op.31/3 – scherzo
Sonata No.12 in A flat minor Op.26 – finale
Piano Concerto No.4 in G Op.58 – Andante con molto arr for solo piano (by Risler?)
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Scherzo in E minor Op.16 No.2
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Waltz in C sharp minor Op.64 No.2
Nocturne in F sharp major Op.15 No.2
Mazurka in A minor Op.17 No.4
Etude in G flat major Op.10 No.5 Black Keys
Carl Maria WEBER (1786-1826)

Aufforderung zum Tanz Op.65
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Rhapsodie hongroise No.11 in A minor
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Valse nonchelante Op.110
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)

Dix pieces pittoresques No.6 – Idylle
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Danzas Españolas Op.37 No.10 in G
Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895)

Deuxième Mazurka Op.54
Édouard Risler (piano)
Paris, recorded? 1917
SYMPOSIUM 1297 [59.04]


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Risler’s is not a household name now but it once was. Born in Baden-Baden in 1873 he was taught by Louis Diémer, one of the most controversial of the high priests of French pianism, and won the Premier Prix in 1889. Subsequently moving in the d’Albert-Von Bülow orbit he gave programmes both monumental (the Bach 48 and a complete Chopin series) and contemporary – he was dedicatee of Dukas’s Piano Sonata for example. Risler taught at the Paris Conservatoire, his best pupils probably being Marcel Gaveau and Jacques Février, and he was for many years an outstanding exponent of cosmopolitan French music making.

The recordings here are not dated by Symposium, so far as I can see, but I’ve provisionally dated these Paris Pathés to 1917 – and would welcome corroboration or correction from readers. Sonically they are somewhat compromised but the ear soon adjusts as it invariably does with recordings of this vintage and the significance of these performances outweighs any reservations concerning surface noise; the transfers, in any case, are very sympathetic. The programme is an eclectic one, fully reflective of his penchant for the glittering cascades as well as the monumental buttresses of the canon, and fascinatingly revealing of performance style. His Rameau is fluid and delicate and the Couperin, in an edition by his erstwhile teacher Diémer, is marvellously driven and textually aerated. He was renowned as a Beethovenian and here shows his credentials in some isolated sonata movements; he has an impressive staccato in the scherzo from Op.31/3 and real fluency in the finale of Op.26. The real surprise is his reworking – one assumes it’s his – of the slow movement of the Concerto in G, where he plays both roles, as it were. His playing is relatively cool and unmannered with remarkable pianissimi. His Mendelssohn is witty and fleet with a splendidly observed rallentando and the Chopin Nocturne is notable for the flowing tempo, the sensitively applied sotto voce playing, the clarity of his passagework and strong sense of direction in the music making.

In the case of the Mazurka he is thoughtful and withdrawn and the tone never quite sings enough but in the Weber one can really admire, despite the limited frequency of the recording, the range of his dynamics in the opening section and the well coloured playing generally. He is saucy rather than ebullient in Liszt, preferring acuity of rhythmic displacement to virtuosic bombast but really shines in Chabrier, where his sense of fun and unforced wit come to the fore. In the Granados and Godard he is, as ever, the master of painterly wit and vivacity.

For adventurous listeners, for whom Cortot, Yves Nat and Robert Lortat represent the acme of the French style, this disc will be invaluable. Post-Diémer, but pre-Cortot Risler is heard here in all his rhythmic vivacity, élan and drive. His tone may not be the singing legato of the Leschetizky pupils but his was a different school, his priorities were different and this is a fine salute to his manifold talents.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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Musicweb sells the following labels
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British Music Soc.
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