Marcel Ciampi (piano)
Live in Concert -Paris
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903 [12:57]
Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Piano Concerto in D major, Op.21 (Hob 18:11) [19:39]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata no.23 in F minor, Op.57 'Appassionata' [20:34]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Préludes Book 1 & 2 selections[25:40]
Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts de Chambre de Paris/Fernand Oubradous
rec. 1955-1956, Salle Gaveau, Paris, France
SOLSTICE SOCD395 [80:02]
Marcel Ciampi, born in Paris on 29 May 1891, hailed from a family of musicians. His father and mother were professional singers, and his uncle had studied with Liszt. He was a pupil of Louis Diémer at the Paris Conservatoire. His repertoire included the major solo works of Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Debussy, Franck, Scriabin, Poulenc, and Enescu. He also collaborated as a chamber musician with George Enescu, Pablo Casals, Jacques Thibaud and violinist Yvonne Astruc whom he married in 1920. Between 1941 and 1961 he taught at the Paris Conservatoire, where his students included Yvonne Loriod, Cécile Ousset and Eric Heidsieck. He became closely associated with the Menuhin family and taught Hephzibah, Yalta and Jeremy Menuhin. He was later invited by Yehudi Menuhin to teach at his school in Stoke d'Abernon. He died 27 August 1980.
Ciampi’s discography is meager to say the least, and centre-stage are a group of 78s made for Columbia in Paris between 1928 and 1931. This sequence of live airings from the Salle Gaveau, Paris, taped in the mid-fifties by French Radio, have laid dormant for more than six decades. It’s thanks to the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) that they’ve been made available for this release.
Two concerts at Paris’ Salle Gaveau are featured. The first was taped on 6 January 1955 and includes Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D major, Op.21 (Hob 18:11). Ciampi delivers a performance exciting and invigorating, sparkling with exuberance and wit. In the slow movement he fully savours the lyricism and warmth of Haydn’s writing. The famous Rondo alla Ungarese is thrilling and etched with colour and spice. He’s aided and abetted by the Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts de Chambre de Paris under the direction of Fernand Oubradous. Two Debussy Preludes, Ce qua’a vu le vent d’Ouest (Book 1) and Feux d’artifice (Book 2) make up the encores, both idiomatic and stylish.
A year later on 16 December 1956, the pianist gave a solo recital at the Paris venue performing works by Bach, Beethoven and Debussy. The recital opens with J.S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903. Ciampi confers it with improvisatory rhetoric, metrical freedom and sonorous tone. It’s an effortlessly virtuosic reading, both controlled and assured with an honest musical vision. In the Fugue, the contrapuntal fabric is fully addressed. Beethoven’s Appassionata benefits greatly from Ciampi’s rich sonority. There’s a wonderful sense of the architecture and structure of this colossus. The second movement suffers a few minor finger slips, but the variations are nicely characterized. The finale I found a tad heavy handed; I would have preferred something a little more subtle. Once again the movement was marred by a few slips. The remainder of the programme is devoted to Debussy, with whom Ciampi had coached. He performs a selection of Preludes from Books 1 and 2. La Cathédrale engloutie has a haunting quality, with the climax sensitively delivered. Les collines d’Anacapri exudes exotic spices, whilst La fille aux chevaux de lin is tender and soothing.
The extensive booklet notes in French and English come courtesy of Frédéric Gaussin, the great French connoisseur of pianists. There are some excellently reproduced black and white photographs scattered throughout. Remasterings have been expertly realized by Christophe Hénault of Studio Art & Son. The recordings emerge fresh and vital. Applause has been retained.