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111 Piano Hits
Cyprien Katsaris (piano)
rec. 1970-2014, various locations
PIANO21 P21 052-N [5 CDs: 396:25]

I think a ‘Phew’ is in order here. Five discs are housed in an ever-unfolding gatefold, containing 111 pieces – ‘Piano Hits’ according to the album title – and played by that memorable, sometime maverick Cyprien Katsaris. Almost all are for solo piano, though there are a few surprises on that score, so one should keep one’s wits about one, Katsaris not being the kind of musician to make things easy; this is, after all, his own label.

You wouldn’t thank me for a review that took in 111 pieces of music and I wouldn’t thank myself either. So whilst I can happily report that I’ve listened to every minute, I will limit myself to a few thoughts.

Firstly, there are a lot of world premiere recordings; second, there’s a lot of hyphenated Katsaris; third, there are arrangers new and old, known and unknown. Disc 1 contains, we’re told, a world premiere of Gounod’s piano arrangement of Ave Maria and there’s Henry Geehl’s solo arrangement of Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto with some emendations from Katsaris himself, though whether this is more for domestic consumption than a genuine listening experience is, I think, likely. The quixotic nature of the tracking of Bach, Bach-Gounod and Addinsell to start the series of discs should give you an indication of the frequently cheekily irrepressible approach to programming. Bizarre is another word for it. The guitar imitations in the Tarrega are effective – it’s tricky but easier to convey this on the violin, as has been done before, but Katsaris has a fine ear for colour and texture. The Albinoni-Giazotto Adagio is another world premiere recording in this piano version and it can’t help but sound a bit staccato. He bravely includes the Schütt Vienna Woods paraphrase, a real piece of Old School braggadocio, but emerges successful. It’s good to hear Abram Chasins’ Gluck arrangement, different from the one so commonly heard. There are some rather personalised Chopin interpretations, and the first of Katsaris’s famed ‘spontaneous improvisations’ – here on the Japanese song Sakura. Here, too, is an arrangement by Adolf Schmid of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 – and I did warn you about that quixotic programming. There’s an ‘improvised arrangement’ of Handel’s Sarabande (Suite No.11 in D minor) and to finish Gottschalk’s The Banjo, in Katsaris’ arrangement, performed with cavalier brio and earning merited applause.

The scene is thus set for eccentricities of juxtaposition, novelties of programming, a series of unlikely bedfellows and the like. Disc two introduces some of Robert Schumann’s Album for the Young, Op.68, which are scattered throughout this disc. Also here you’ll find a feisty Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, Liszt’s version of Schubert’s Ave Maria – Katsaris has an idée fixe when it comes to the Ave Maria – and a pellucid and beautiful arrangement of Marcello’s Adagio from the Oboe Concerto in D minor. This is where Katsaris brackets himself with one J S Bach. It’s assuredly not Earl Wild’s version. There’s much fun to be had throughout these discs – don’t imagine that there’s solemnity throughout – and you’ll find such in Fritz Hoffmann’s Bizet arrangement. There’s a thrilling performance of the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in a Liszt-Katsaris co-production.

In a ceaseless ride such as this, in performances culled from the years 1970-2014, we have the fruits of nearly 45 years of concert-giving. The Pink Panther theme that starts disc three comes complete with suitable noises off and we are then treated to mini-series, such as Baroque pieces by Bach, Lully and Scarlatti before moving off to the wacky world of Eric Chumachenco’s arrangement of Orff’s Carmina Burana (well, not all of it). I was intrigued by Jacques Charlot’s Ravel arrangement and then we have a double threat of the slow movement from Winter, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, in Guido Farina’s arrangement, followed by the Hallelujah chorus arranged by none other than Carl Czerny. I’ll let you discover the delights of Louis Brassin’s arrangement of The Ride of the Valkyries and the dazzling fantasy on Silent Night by Gruber. A single movement is heard from Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata - the third, the Precipitato, inevitably. Crazy programming.

An orchestra comes into view and indeed hearing in disc four where Katsaris plays the slow movement from Mozart’s K467 Concerto – Elvira Madigan to those of a filmic disposition. Yoon Kuk Lee is in Salzburg to accompany. There’s also the finale of Rach 3, with the National Orchestra of Belgium and René Defossez, which I’ve already reviewed elsewhere; it comes from Katsaris’ controversial non-place at a piano competition. Reger’s arrangement of the Poco allegretto from Brahms’ Symphony No.3 is fascinating to hear. Katsaris has clearly sourced pieces that would have been performed domestically and given them new life in this medium. Disc four opens with a concert stunner – Lev Soline’s arrangement of Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance. Is it really the case that no one has ever before recorded Alfred Cortot’s arrangement of Fauré’s Dolly Suite? If not, here’s Le Jardin de Dolly. The slow movement from Chopin’s Concerto, Op.11 for solo piano is to be heard in the composer’s own arrangement. And if you’ve ever hankered to hear Bizet’s arrangement of Martini’s Plaisir d’amour, here’s your chance – in a world premiere recording, no less. The Aranjuez theme, arranged by Rodrigo, is to be heard, too, as well as a naughty Happy Birthday To You, courtesy of Katsaris, with wicked Chopinisms included.

Sound quality inevitably varies over this extended time period but nothing is especially problematic and the most recent tracks are excellent. The notes are concise and even a touch saucy. Full recording locations and dates are provided for the tracks.

Here, then, you will find a multi-genre-hopping six hours of music-making from a virtuoso throwback who revels in the rich variety of music both serious and frivolous.

Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing
CD 1 [79:45]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude No.1 in C major BWV846 [2:04]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Ave Maria [4:23]
Richard ADDINSELL (1904-1977)
Warsaw Concerto arr. Henry Geehl (1881-1961) and Cyprien Katsaris [8:26]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Polonaise in A flat major, Op.53 Heroic [6:19]
Etude in C minor Op.10 No.12 Revolutionary [2:19]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Soldier’s March from Album for the Young, Op.68 [0:56]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Lullaby Op.49 No.4 arr. Gerald Moore (1899-1987) [2:14]
Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)
Recuerdos de la Alhambra arr. Karol Penson (b.1946) [3:39]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751) - Remo GIAZOTTO (1910-1998)
Adagio [6:40]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Waltz No.2 from Suite for Jazz Orchestra No.2 arr Florian Noack (b. 1990) [3:37]
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Romanian Folk Dances Sz.56 [5:05]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Waltz No.10 (Valses Nobles D969) [1:20]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Tales from the Vienna Woods, Op.325 paraphrased by Eduard Schütt (1856-1933) [6:48]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Melody: second Ballet from Orpheus arr. Abram Chasins (1903-1987) [3:13]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Méditation from Thais [4:14]
Cyprien KATSARIS (b.1951)
Spontaneous Improvisation on the Japanese song ‘Sakura’ [1:31]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Pomp and Circumstance March Op.39 No.1 arr. Adolf Schmid [5:53]
Geiorg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Sarabande from Suite No.11 in D minor, HWV437 improvised arrangement by Cyprien Katsaris [5:01]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Marche in D major BWV Anhang 122; Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, No.16 [1:01]
Solfeggieto in C minor H220, Wq117:2 [0:52]
Louis Moreau GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869)
The Banjo; Grotesque Fantasy, American Sketch arr. Cyprien Katsaris [4:06]

CD 2 [79:27]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 [10:30]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No.94 in G major Surprise Hob I: 94; Andante arr. Muzio Clemneti (1752-1832) [5:47]
François COUPERIN ‘LE GRAND’ (1668-1733)
Les Moissonneurs from 6ème Ordre du Second Livre de pièces de clavecin [1:39]
The Reaper’s Song [0:53] The Merry Peasant returning from work [0:41] The Wild Rider [0:38] from Album for the Young Op.68
Träumerei from Kinderszenen, Op.15 [2:28]
Ave Maria D839 arr. Franz Liszt [4:58]
Cotillon in E flat major D976 [0:37]
Sergei RACHMANINOV 91873-1943)
Prelude in G minor, Op.23 No.5 [3:59]
Alessandro MARCELLO (1669-1747)
Adagio from Oboe Concerto in D minor Op.1 arr. Johann Sebastian Bach-Cyprien Katsaris [4:36]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Spring Song from Song without Words Op.62 No.6 [2:01]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Prelude in A major Op.28 No.7 [0:44]
Waltz in C sharp minor, Op.64 No.2 [3:41]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Habanera from Carmen arr. Fritz Hoffmann [2:11]
Farandole from L’Arlésienne arr. unknown [3:17]
Menuet in D minor, BWV Anhang 132 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, No.36 [0:48]
attributed Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Bread and Butter Waltz arr. Cyprien Katsaris [2:04]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Feuillet d’album in E flat major; Trois Morceaux Op.45 [0:59]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 9 in D minor Op.125: IV Presto arr. Franz Liszt and Cyprien Katsaris [22:53]

CD 3 [79:58]
Henry MANCINI (1924-1994)
The Pink Panther Theme [2:10]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
The Swan; Carnival of the Animals. Free transcription by Leopold Godowsky (1870-19380 [2:25]
Musette in D major, BWV Anhang 126 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, No.22 [0:55]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Aria from the Goldberg Variations [3:04]
Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687)
Courante [2:39]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in C major K159 [2:18]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo [3:35]
Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
Fortuna Imperatix Mundi; O Fortuna and Fortune plango vulnera from Carmina Burana arranged Eric Chumachenco (b. 1964) [4:14]
Waltz No.19 from Waltzes, D365 [0:54]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Etude in E major, Op.10 No.3 [3:52]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pavane de la Belle du bois dormant from Ma Mère L’Oye arranged Jacques Charlot [1:21]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Rondo alla Turca from Sonata No. 11 in A major K331 [3:25]
Jean-François DANDRIEU (1682-1738)
Les Fifres: Rondeau [1:52]
Moment Musical No.3 in F minor, D780 [1:54]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Winter; Largo from Concerto No.4 in F minor, Op.8 RV297 The Four Seasons arranged Guido Farina (1903-1999) [1:59]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Hallelujah from Messiah arranged Carl Czerny (1791-1857) [3:38]
Johann Sebastian BACH
Badinerie from Suite No.2 in B minor BWV1067 arranged in Burlesque Style by Cyprien Katsaris [1:27]
Waltz No.35 from Waltzes, D365 [0:43]
Marche Militaire Op.51 No.1, D733 grande paraphrase de concert by Franz Liszt [5:35]
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950)
Tango-Ballade from the Threepenny Opera - arranger unknown [1:30]
Spontaneous Improvisation on the Korean Song ‘Arirang’ [2:00]
Souvenir de Noël; fantasy on Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863) [7:33]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Adagio sostenuto; Moonlight Sonata, No.14 in C sharp minor Op.27 No.2 [5:51]
Clair de lune from Suite Bergamasque No.3 [4:36]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre arranged Louis Brassin (1840-1884) and Cyprien Katsaris [5:03]
Intermezzo from Carnival of Vienna, Op.26 [2:04]
Sergei PROKOFFIEV (1891-1953)
Precipitato from Piano Sonata No.7 in B flat major, Op.83 [2:59]

CD 4 [77:11]
György CZIFFRA (1921-1994)
Concert Study No.1 [1:39]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Andante from Piano Concerto No.21 in C major K467 [7:14]
Salzburg Chamber Orchestra/Yoon Kuk Lee
Johann Sebastian BACH
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565 arranged Cyprien Katsaris [8:13]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Seasons; June (Barcarolle) Op.37a No.6 [4:21]
Johannes BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance No.1 in G minor arranged Cyprien Katsaris [2:46]
Poco Allegretto from Symphony No.3 in F major, Op.90 arranged Max Reger (1873-1916) [5:54]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Melody in F major Op.3 No.1 [4:10]
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)
Valse from Coppélia arranged Ernö Dohnányi (1877-1960) [6:18]
Johann Christoph PACHELBEL (1653-1706)
Canon arranged René Capdeville [7:03]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Prelude in B flat minor, Op.28 No.16 [0:58]
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
Nocturne from Petite Suite No.7 [2:22]
Spontaneous Improvisation on Various Themes [9:38]
Ren GUANG (1900-1941)
Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon arranged Wang Jianzhong (b.133) [2:44]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Finale from Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, Op.30 [13:44]
National Orchestra of Belgium/René Defossez

CD 5 [80:04]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Sabre Dance from Gayaneh arranged Lev Soline (1923-20080 and Cyprien Katsaris [3:19]
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)
Gymnopédie No.1 [3:01]
Gabriel FAURÉ
Le Jardin de Dolly from Dolly, Op.56 arranged Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) [2:24]
Johann Sebastian BACH
Musette in G major from Englsih Suite No.3 BWV808 [1:00]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Romance Larghetto from Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op.11 arranged solo piano by Cyprien Katsaris [8:35]
Ländler No.5 from 8 Ländler D681 [0:44]
Johannes BRAHMS
Waltz in A flat major Op.39 No.15 [1:27]
Antonín DVORAK (1841-1904)
Slavonic Dance in E minor Op.72 No.2 arranged Cyprien Katsaris [5:09]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Bagatelle No.25 in A minor, WoO59 Für Elise [2:51]
Jean-Paul Égide MARTINI (SCHWARZENDORF) (1746-1816)
Plaisir d’amour arranged Georges Bizet [4:11]
Liebestraume; Notturno No.3 [4:03]
Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream arranged Felix Mendelssohn [5:09]
Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker Op.71 arranged Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) [6:25]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Morning Mood from Peer Gynt, No.1 Op.46 arranged Edvard Grieg [3:53]
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Aranjuez, ma pensée – theme of Concierto de Aranjuez arranged Joaquin Rodrigo [6:04]
Fantasie on ‘Happy Birthday To You’ [5:37]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Liza [2:16]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
West Side Story; 3 movements: Jets, Jump, Cha-Cha [4:06]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Aria (Cantilena) from Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 arranged Brunot Gousset (b.1958) [0:58]
Alfredo CARRASCO (1875-1955)
Adiós [3:08]



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