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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Songs (3), no.1 Après un rêve op.7 [2:58]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Vocalise-Etude for soprano and piano [4:33]
Antonio PASCULLI (1842-1924)
Amelia's Musings from 'Un Ballo in Maschera' (Verdi) for cor anglais and fortepiano [7:12]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Histoire du Tango: Café 1930 [6:30]
Oblivion [3:20]
Tanti anni prima 'Ave Maria' [4:11]
Sergei RACHMANONOFF (1873-1943)
Songs (14), no.14 Vocalise op.34
Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1943)
Hot-Sonata: Movements II and III [2:07 + 3:45]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Adagio and Allegro, op.70 [9:01]
Klavierstücke (12) for piano four hands, no.12 Abendlied, op.85 [2:30]
Hans STEINMETZ (1901-1975)
Liebesruf eines Faun [5:57]
Michael Sieg (cor anglais)
Angelika Merkle (piano)
rec. Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt, February 2016
GENUIN GEN17454 [57:37]

Given the paucity of original material for cor anglais and piano – indeed cor anglais and anything except in a specifically orchestral or operatic context – soloist Michael Sieg has arranged everything in his recital with the exception of the original works for the instrument by Antonio Pasculli and Hans Steinmetz.

There are three pieces by Piazzolla. Café 1930 is the second movement of L’Histoire du Tango and it survives the transition to cor anglais with its atmospheric allure largely intact. Tanti anni prima is much less often encountered but is just as attractive, whilst Oblivion is everyone’s favourite and ends the programme very satisfyingly.

Sieg has resisted the temptation to refashion a baroque piece preferring instead to mine the nineteenth and twentieth centuries instead and promoting virtues of lyricism and tonal bloom. Messiaen’s Vocalise, for example, was originally written for voice and piano but it suits the cor anglais’ ability to spin long, seductive legato imperiled only by the necessity to take breaths. Sieg proves eloquent here. Pasculli’s original piece is a re-fashioning by him from Verdi’s Un ballo in Maschera, a ripe scena introduced by the very sturdy and explosive pianism of Angelika Merkle. The other original, by Steinmetz, pursues more furtively frolicsome and romantic scenery.

Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Op.70 was originally written for French horn, but the transposition is essentially straightforward and it doesn’t sound too awkward in its new guise and the Fauré arrangement, though clearly less effective than that for cello, has its own personal plangency. The Schulhoff Hot-Sonata shows the value of cherry picking repertoire but also the limitations of programming such as this. The sonata was originally written for the saxophone but Sieg and Merkle play only two movements reversing the ordering so that one hears the third movement followed by the second. Infused with sinuous blues inflections it’s a seductive work but hearing a torso in this arrangement when there was plenty of room for the whole sonata (and much more besides) is a wasted opportunity. Strangely the performance of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise is almost wholly dry-eyed.

Plusses and minuses exist here. The playing is technically eloquent if on the cool side but the programming is not always beyond reproach. Good sound quality.

Jonathan Woolf



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