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Piano Music

Piano Premieres

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CPO 777446-2

Ignaz Brüll
(1846-1907)

Piano Sonata in D Minor, Op. 73 (1893)
Suite #2, Op. 71 (c.1893)
Suite #3, Op. 76: Legend, Saraband (c.1893)
Suite #4, Op. 80: Cavatina (c.1893)

5 Piano Pieces Op. 57: Romanze (1887)
Seven Albumblätter for Youth, Op. 33 (1878)

Alexandra Oehler, piano
CPO 777446-2 72:51

The Austrian composer Brüll began his career as a concert pianist until composition became his main purpose in life. Much of his career was spent in Vienna where he was a friend of Johannes Brahms, a distinction for which he is probably best known. His piano music shows the influence of various composers, notably Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin, but less so Brahms. Also of interest are his two piano concertos (Hyperion CDA67069) and a CD containing his Symphony in E Minor and Serenade #1 (Cameo Classics CC9027CD).

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - HBDirect - JPC ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Romantic Belgian Chamber Music

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Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423

François-Joseph Fétis
(1784-1871)

String Quintet #1 in A minor (1859) 1
Grand Sextet (1818) 2,3
Sonata #1 for Piano 4-Hands in A Major 2
Sonata #2 for Piano 4-Hands in D Major 2
Sonata #3 for Piano 4-Hands in G Major 2

1 Michel Collin & André Martin, violins
1 Guy Decleire & Louis Logie, viola
1 Edmond Baert, cello
2 Dominique Cornil & Olivier Gardon, piano 4-hands
3 Veronique Bogaerts & François Chamberlan, violins
3 Paul de Clerck, viola
3 Hans Mannes, cello
Koch-Schwann Musique en Wallonie MEW0423 77:52

Born into a Belgian family of instrument makers and musicians, Fétis became perhaps the most important music historian and musicologist of the 19th century, as well as an influential critic. Though his writings were encyclopedic, his compositional output was relatively sparse.

His chamber music consists of three string quartets, three string quintets, the sextet included here (scored for the unusual combination of piano 4-hands, 2 violins, viola & cello) and a few other pieces, including these 4-hand piano sonatas from 1819. All of the works are finely crafted, and often quite beautiful. The performances are committed and first rate. Hard to find, but worth the trouble.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Electoral Sonatas

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Naxos 8.550255

Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)

Piano Sonata in E Flat Major, WoO 47 #1
Piano Sonata in F Minor, WoO 47 #2
Piano Sonata in D Major, WoO 47 #3
Sonatina in G Major
Sonatina in F Major
Piano Sonata #15 "Pastoral", Op. 28

Jénö Jandó, piano
Naxos 8.550255 68:34

This CD contains some very early works of Beethoven. Naxos's numbering for the three WoO 47 works are piano sonatas #33-35, although this numbering is not always used in other work lists. The two sonatinas are possibly not by Beethoven, but the Op. 28 sonata certainly is.

The WoO 47 sonatas are collectively called the Kurfürstensonaten (Electoral Sonatas), and are tentatively thought to have been written in about 1783. Each runs about ten minutes and while Mozart and Haydn are his obvious models, there are indications of his later work. The performance of the Sonata #15 is also enjoyable, but the main reason for buying this CD is the rarely-recorded early works.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Unknown Piano Works

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CPO 999256

Anton Bruckner
(1824-1896)

Lancer-Quadrille (c. 1850)
Steiermärker (c. 1850)
Quadrille for Piano Four Hands (c. 1854)
Three Little Pieces for Piano Four Hands
Klavierstück in E Flat Major (c. 1856)
Sonata Movement in G Minor (1862)
Silent Meditation on an Autumn Evening (1863)
Fantasie (1868)
Reminiscence (c.1868)

Wolfgang Brunner, Michael Schopper, pianos
CPO 999256 47:21

o put this music into context, all but the last two pieces were written before the F Minor (Study) Symphony, his first completed work in that form. It's interesting to hear the composer's early efforts. There is very little in the piano music to hint at what was to come. Much of it sounds like very early Schubert or one of the Viennese composers of lighter music such as Lanner. This CD makes an excellent source of music for fooling your friends!

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Little-Known Elgar

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Naxos 8.570166

Edward Elgar
(1857-1934)

Sonatina in G Major (1887, rev. 1930)
Dream Children, Op. 43 (1902)
Une Idylle, Op. 4 #1 (1884)
Carissima (1913)
May Song (1901)
Rosemary (1883)
Sérénade Mauresque, Op. 10 #2 (1899)
Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (1899)
The Sanguine Fan: Echo's Dance, Op. 81 #7 (1917)

Ashley Wass, piano
Naxos 8.570166 66:58

This CD mostly represents some of Elgar's lighter music, either written originally for the piano or arranged from orchestral or chamber works. Apart from the shorter pieces, it's useful to have a piano version of the Enigma Variations which highlights details the listener may not have noticed from the more familiar orchestral version. Ashley Wass has also recorded for Naxos quite a lot of music by such English composers as Alwyn, Bridge and Bax.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

A British Rachmaninoff

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Hyperion CDA66838

York Bowen
(1884-1961)

13 Preludes from 24 Preludes, Op. 102 (1950)
Ballade #2, Op. 87 (1931)
Piano Sonata #5 in F minor, Op. 72 (1931)
Berceuse in D Major, Op. 83
Moto perpetuo from Op. 39
Toccata in A minor, Op. 155 (1957)

Stephen Hough, piano
Hyperion CDA66838 77:20

Recordings of Bowen's music have become more frequent and include the second symphony, at least two piano concertos, and concertos for horn, viola & violin. The piano music, while having some affinity with such English composers as Bax and Ireland, more often shows the influences of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Moods and Fancies

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Naxos 8.557713

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)

Five Piano Pieces, Op. 3 (1880-81)
Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 5 (1880-81)
Moods and Fancies, Op. 9 (1882-4)

Stefan Veselka, piano
Naxos 8.557713 67:33

These early piano works of Strauss show the influence of composers such as Schumann, Mendelssohn and especially Liszt. If those composers appeal to you, then this CD will too.

[ Available on CD:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Tangos, Waltzes & Polkas

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Naxos 8.557687

Ernesto Nazareth
(1863-1934)

Espalhafatoso, Brejeiro, Confidências, Escovado, Nenê, Ameno Resedá, Turbilhão De Beijos, Gaúcho, Plangente, Topázio Líquido, Ouro Sobre Azul, Sarambeque, Epônina, Escorregando, Tenebroso, Odeon & Apanhei-Te Cavaquinho

Iara Behs, piano
Naxos 8.557687 63:24

The Brazilian Nazareth was originally influenced by Chopin, wrote in the styles of the dances of his era, and in turn influenced a later generation of composers. The seventeen tracks have a variety of moods and more than once you'll find yourself half-expecting a tune you think you know but it turns out you don't. Those who respond to the music of Gottschalk will find much to enjoy.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Piano Works from a Virtuoso

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VMS 623

Wilhelm Kempff
(1895-1991)

Rhapsodic Prelude, Op. 44 (1941)
Italian Suite, Op. 68 (1950)
Lyric Suite in E Major, Op. 17 #1 (early 1920s)
Six Little Piano Pieces (1933-1958)
Fantasia on the Opera "The Gozzi Family" (1932)

Rüdiger Steinfatt, piano
VMS 623 66:37

The great German pianist wrote a potentially interesting set of music including four operas and two symphonies. As Kempff is known mostly for his records of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin and Brahms, you might expect some elements of those composers in his own music. In a blindfold test, you might guess that the composer was French or Italian. The music offers charm, elegance and restrained drama, and is immediately accessible.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Emerging From Obscurity

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Hyperion CDA67569

Charles-Valentin Alkan
(1813-1888)

Concerto for Solo Piano, Op. 39 #8-10 (1857)
Troisième recueil de chants, Op. 65 (c. 1870)

Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Hyperion CDA67569 67:39

It's only in fairly recent times that Alkan has emerged from the obscurity in which he spent most of his life. This is due in no small part to the fact that a technique of a very high order is required to play his music. His Op. 39 consists of twelve studies in the minor keys. Four of them comprise his Symphony for Solo Piano, and three the Concerto. Marc-André Hamelin, who has made a career from playing technically difficult music, plays this concerto superbly.

The six little pieces in the collection of songs use Mendelssohn's Songs without Words as their model. I must emphasise that Alkan's music is not an exercise in empty technique: this is music with substantial rewards. Hamelin has also recorded for Hyperion, among other Alkan, the Symphony, and the Grande Sonate.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet