Piano Rarities Vol. 2: French Composers
Amédée MÉREAUX (1802-1874)
1-5. Études nos.8,44,2,22,13 [15:59] from 60 Grandes etudes en caprices charactéristiques dans le style libre et dans le style severe
Déodat de SÉVÉRAC (1872-1921)
6. Où l’on entend une veille boîte à musique [1:14] No.6 from En Vacances
Nöel GALLON (1891-1966)
7. Le petit mendiant [0:55]
Jean GALLON (1878-1959)
8. Thème varié [3:29]
Simone PLÉ-CAUSSADE (1897-1985)
9. Le chant du pâtre [1:12]
Jean-Michel DAMASE (b.1928)
10. Dédicase [3:10]
Jean-Jacques LAUBRY (1916-2001)
11. Prélude No.4 [1:26]
Jacob TARDIEN (b.1975)
12. Pièce pour piano [3:53]
René BERTHELOT (1903-1999)
13. Valse lointaine [2:06]
Jean WIENER (1896-1982)
14. Polka lente [1:47] No.3 from Quatre Petites Pièces - Radio
15. Java [2:35]
Albert LAVIGNAC (1846-1916)
16. Galop-Marche à 8 mains sur un seul piano* [3:22]
Cyprien KATSARIS (b.1951)
17. Improvisation libre sur des musiques de film et sur les Feuilles mortes [9:12]
Michel SOGNY (b.1947)
18-20. 3 études from Études pour piano, quatrième série, dans le style hongrois [4:32]
21. Réminiscentiel, No.4 des Pièces de concert [6:26]
Stéphane BLET (b.1969)
22. Sonate Renaissance [6:24]
Yves CLAOUÉ (1927-2001)
23. Rengua-2 pour 1 flûte, 2 hautbois, 2 bassons, 2 cors, quintette à cordes et piano** [10:39]
Cyprien Katsaris (piano)
*accompanied by Frank Braley, François-Joël Thiollier and Alexei Volodin
**accompanied by the soloists of the Salzburger Kammerphilharmie/Yo Kuk Lee
rec. tracks 1-9, 13 studio Teije van Geest, Sandhausen, Germany, March, 2009; 10-12, 22 as above, December, 2007; 18-21 live, The Piano Sal, Yamaha Artist Services, New York City, USA, 10 March, 2006; 14-16 live, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon, France, 29 July 2005; 17 live, Hyogo Performing Arts Center, Japan, 1 November 2008; 23 live, Mozarteum, Großer Saal, Salzburg, Austria, 4 December 1998
PIANO 21 P21037-N [78:35]
As I drove along listening to this disc the following adjectives sprang to mind: charming, disarming, beguiling, whimsical and gamine. Can music be said to be ‘gamine’ I then asked myself and checked its definition which is said to mean mischievous, teasing or sexually appealing and since when I thought of it I had in mind Audreys Hepburn and Tautou I knew that it was what I meant. To sum up, what it boils down to is that this music is quintessentially French. With the odd exception it is immediately recognisable as being French and in fact couldn’t be anything else. What is it that makes music so indelibly linked to a country I ask myself. I find it difficult to come up with an answer. Up until I heard this disc I would have listed such composers as writing quintessentially French music as including Debussy, Satie, Jean Françaix, George Auric, Milhaud, Poulenc and various others to which list I can now add all 15 of the composers represented here the bulk of whom I had never before come across.

The disc is a hugely enthralling and enjoyable celebration of ‘joie de vivre’ and is one of those discs you never tire of hearing - a tonic when you’re in need of being cheered up. There is an appealing innocence about the music that cannot fail to charm and I loved every minute of it. Part of its success is due to pianist Cyprien Katsaris’s clever choice of programme as well as his ability to bring out every wistful nuance underpinned by an obvious love for the music. His enjoyment in playing it comes across very forcefully. I am loath to pick out any particular piece because that would leave out the others when every track has its own highly attractive and distinctive features. However, if I had to pick one to give a flavour of the playful and fun nature of the disc it would have to be track 16: Galop-Marche à 8 mains sur un seul piano (for 4 players at a single piano). No wonder it brought the house down at a Radio France Festival; can you imagine the shenanigans caused by four pianists trying to do their bit and needing to leap around amongst themselves causing convulsive laughter from the audience. That sums up the nature of the disc which is a celebration of the fun side of music. It doesn’t always have to be serious. It can let its hair down yet still warrant being taken seriously. That this is something understood the world over was also ably demonstrated by Katsaris’s own arrangement in medley form of several French film music themes. This gained huge applause from the Japanese audience.

The music on this disc is another way of proving that music can be light in nature without being classed as ‘light music’. This is a winning disc in every respect and I now have an enviable self-inflicted task of seeking out more music by these wonderful composers to add to the growing number of those whose music I don’t know enough of; oh, for more time!
Steve Arloff 

Every track has its own highly attractive and distinctive features.