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Paray piano v2 CC006

Paul Paray (1886-1979)
Works for Piano - Volume 2
Vertiges romantiques
Katia Krivocochenko, Eliane Reyes (piano)
rec. 2020/2021, Studio Recital B, Tihange, Belgium
CIAR CC006 (71)

My MusicWeb colleague Stephen Greenbank last year very favourably reviewed the first volume on the CIAR label of Paul Paray’s piano music, played by Eliane Reyes who in this second volume features only in the last two tracks for four hands. He dubbed it “a delightful selection of tonally pleasing music by a composer many will be familiar with only through his conducting”, remarking on Paray’s fascination with rhythm and his being “melodically gifted”; those are precisely the features which again emerge foremost in this second recital of music which is essentially “old-fashioned”, in the sense that it has no truck with the more challenging experiments in 20C composition but is suffused with a lightness and charm often reminiscent of Debussy or Saint-Saëns. It is in no sense facile or banal but its rippling arpeggios and pearlescent cascades certainly do not tire the listener’s ear or demand undue concentration. Its tone is predominantly playful and insouciant; waltzes again feature prominently, punctuated by dreamy, Romantic passages – sentiments indicated by the titles of many of these short works such as En rêvant (Dreaming), Vertige and Nostalgie.

The opening number of Reflets Romantiques, is indeed played “avec esprit et charme”, establishing a humorous tone before launching into the second, brief, contrasting track, Ardemment (Ardently/passionately/fervently – as you choose), whose elan is worthy of Schumann. The third track has a kind of Chopinesque melancholy – and so it goes: a kaleidoscopic succession of moods, embracing the more ecstatic and extreme expressions of the human condition while all the while preserving a kind of Gallic subtlety and delicacy. Pieces such as Sur la mer are perhaps slight in comparison to more trenchant depictions of the ocean by French Impressionist composers but it is of a piece with the character of the album in general – and there is more than a touch of Saint-Saëns’ Aquarium about it. Katia Krivocochenko’s playing is technically as well as aesthetically superb; the prestissimo conclusion to Scherzetto is especially impressive.

The final four-handed Fantaisie à deux pianos, provides a welcome complexity and richness of texture. It is the longest, most substantial and “serious” of the tracks here and is most skilfully and flexibly played by the two pianists, who combine as one. The coda is thrillingly executed, driving to a manic climax in the best pianistic showboating tradition.

The recorded sound is superb: rich, deep and sonorous without being cavernous or boomy.

(NB: there is an error in the listing on the back cover: it skips from Vertige, track 9, to Nostalgie, track 11, so there is no track 10.)

Ralph Moore

Vertiges romantiques:
Reflets Romantiques (Avec esprit et charme, Ardemment, En rêvant, Avec fougue, Scherzetto, Impromptu, Entêtement, Sur la Mer, Vertige) (1912)
Impressions (Nostalgie, Éclaircie, Primesaut) (1912)
Prélude, Allegro, Scherzo (1913)
Prélude en mi bémol mineur (1930)
Pièce de piano à quatre mains (1916)
Fantaisie à deux pianos (1906/09)*
*world premiere recording

Published: November 29, 2022

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