One of the great pleasures of listening to any one of the volumes
of the Rarities from the Festival of Piano Music at Husum
is the sheer variety of music that is presented. There are various
depths of interest – for example, unknown works from well-known
composers, arrangements and transcriptions of popular pieces reworked
and remade by the pianists themselves and finally rarities by
composers who have barely made a mark on the standard repertoire.
On this present disc, the only pieces I can claim to know (as
presented) is the extract from Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s’ rarely
played Sonata No. 2 in E major and the Mazurka’s by Karol Szymanowski.
Every other piece was, for me at least, a novelty.
work that most impressed me was the wonderful Improvisations
on Themes from Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’, which was realised
by the Swedish pianist Roland Pöntinen. It is based on tunes
written for that film by the great Italian composer Nino Rota.
This is a fine interpretation of what is fundamentally romantic
music, with the added spice making for considerable interest.
pianists on this CD come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Daniel Berman is a ‘house’ pianist of Danacord and has appeared
on a number of Husum discs. He has recorded an album of rarities
that include George Gershwin’s - Grand Fantasy
on Airs from Porgy and Bess arranged by Earl Wild. The
rarely hear Godowsky arrangement of the Sarabande by Jean
Baptiste Lully makes a fine start to this CD. This is followed
by an attractive Russian Song by Nikolai Rakov and
a seriously impressive piece from ‘Sunny Spain’ called Sevillana
by Manuel Infante.
Attwood does not appear to have a CD in the record shops,
although he does feature on YouTube. The two pieces in his
recital recorded here are arranged by the pianist. Especially
welcome is the fine rendition of the universally-known guitar
piece Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco
French pianist Denis Pascal gives an impressive account of
the surprisingly rarely heard Toccata by Franz Liszt. This
is a very difficult study in tremolos and arpeggios. Great
stuff! It is followed by a beautiful Albumblatt by
the Austrian composer Joseph Marx. Pascal’s contribution concludes
with a ‘relaxed cafe-style waltz’ called Java by Jean
Wiéner. It is pastiche, yes, but there is nothing wrong with
that! I would certainly like to hear the Polka and the Tango
from the same suite of three pieces.
Jablonski was born in Sweden and has a world-wide career,
including recital and concert tours of Mexico and Taipei. His repertoire is significant and he has recorded
a large number of impressive CDs. The two Mazurkas by Karol
Szymanowski are particularly welcome in this recital.
was particularly impressed by Peter Froundjian’s contributions
to this disc. Alexander von Zemlinsky’s gorgeous Liebe
which is the first of a series of Fantasies on Poems by
Richard Dehmel is both beautiful and absorbing. The high-romanticism
of this piece is tinged with something just that little bit
disturbing. The slow movement from Korngold’s Sonata No. 2
in E is a work that deserves it place in the repertoire –
even if that standing is a little too shaky for comfort. Froundjian
concludes his recital with a short but technically impossible
sounding Prelude by Ignaz Friedman. There is much here that
nods to Chopin but never falls into simple parody.
is represented by two more short pieces played by Roland Pöntinen.
The Masque Galante is a little waltz which is followed
by the humorous scherzo-like Arlequinade. The liner
notes point out that the “inner melody is marked ‘quasi cello’
and ‘buffonesco’ (zany or buffoonish).” These interesting
and largely sophisticated works suggest that a revival of
Friedman's music is long overdue.
last part of this disc is dominated by a long impressionistic
piece called Cipressi by the Italian composer Mario
Castelnuovo–Tedesco. This is fundamentally a nature-study,
for it was inspired by the tree-lined avenues found in the
Lari region of Tuscany, although it does not
need this picture to appreciate the fine music. It may well
be the most important piece on this CD: a rare masterpiece.
Marc-André Hamelin plays this music with style and concentration.
If this work had been by Debussy or Ravel there would have
been some four-dozen recordings available. As there is this
are only two others in the Arkiv catalogue.
concludes his recital and the CD with three arrangements or
paraphrases of songs by Charles Trenet – En avril, ŕ Paris, Coin de rue and finally Boum!
The first is a ‘languid’ waltz that reminds the listener of
a Paris that largely vanished
before the last war. The ‘Corner of the Street’ is another
waltz, but this time it is memories of the composer’s childhood
that inform the music. And finally Boum is just pure
fun. It is useful to recall that Weissenberg did not just
‘arrange’ these song for piano solo – he “creatively paraphrased
them.” They are to the cafe music of the nineteen-thirties
and forties what Godowsky was to Strauss Waltzes in a previous
always, with the Danacord Husum productions, the liner notes
are comprehensive: there is virtually a major essay provided
for each piece. There is no excuse for not being able to understand
the composer’s thoughts. The quality of the sound is excellent
and the producer has chosen to leave a few seconds of the
audience’s reactions. It adds to the atmosphere of the live
performance. This is an excellent CD for all enthusiasts of
romantic piano music.