Romantic Piano Favourites, Vol. 2

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Romantic Piano Favourites, Vol. 2

1. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

First movement from Sonata in C SharpMinor, Opus 27, No.2 (Moonlight)

2. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)

Songs without Words, Opus 102, No.5:Allegro vivace

3. Georges Bizet (1838 - 1875)

Adagietto, No.3 from L'Arlesienne, Suite No.1

4. Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)

Transcribed by Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)Hark, hark, the lark (Standchen, D. 889)

5. Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840- 1893)

October: Autumn Song from The Seasons,Opus 37b

6. Jacques Offenbach (1819 - 1880)

Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann(arr. Peter Nagy)

7. Fryderyk Chopin (1810.1849)

Prelude in D Flat, Opus 28, No.15

8. Londonerry Air (Irish Traditional)(arr. Peter Nagy)

9. Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)

Moment musical in C Sharp Minor, Opus 94,No.4

10. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Andante cantabile from Sonata in A Minor,K. 310

11. Edvard Grieg(1843-1907)

Heimweh (Homesickness), No.4 from LyricPieces, Opus 57

12. Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886) MephistoWaltz No.1

(Episode from Lenau's Faust: Dances inthe Village Inn)

The first movement of Beethoven'sso-called Moonlight Sonata must be among the most famous pieces of pianomusic ever written. Its popular title was the result of a remark by the poetand musician Rellstab, who suggested that the mood of the music conjured up apicture of a boat on Lake Lucerne in the moonlight. It is worth noticing thatthe French composer Berlioz detected sunlight here, while the scholar ArnoldSchering, in search of literary parallels, chose Shakespeare's play KingLear as a possible source.

Beethoven himself never knew of the title"Moonlight", but resented the early popularity of the work, claimingthat he had written much better music than this.

Mendelssohn's Songs without Words,of which he wrote a considerable number throughout his life, are pieces ofgreat charm and elegance, miniatures ideally suited to their purpose, whichmight be a compliment to a hostess or pupil. The composer claimed for them adirectness and lack of ambiguity, as opposed to words themselves, which musthold different meanings for different people. Opus 102, No.5, carries aclear enough title, The Merry Peasant.

The Adagietto from the French composerGeorges Bizet's suite of music from his melodrama L'Arlesienne istranscribed from the original orchestral version of the work. L'Arlesienne

was written in collaboration with Alphonse Daudet and sought to revive anearlier theatrical form in a tragic love-story, set in Daudet's Provence.

Paris audiences were quick to find fault with a style of music that theyregarded as Wagnerian, a judgement in which posterity has not concurred.

Shakespeare's song "Hark, hark, thelark at Heaven's gate sings", from Cymbeline, is probably betterknown in Schubert's setting than anything else about the play itself. FranzLiszt, the great virtuoso pianist of the nineteenth century, transcribed this,with other songs, for his own use in concert performance, at a time when pianotranscriptions of well known melodies formed a popular part of currentrepertoire.

Nineteenth century Russia developed itsown intensely national brand of music. Tchaikovsky, however, a product of thefirst attempts at systematic professional musical training in the country,represented what seemed at the time a more cosmopolitan approach in his use ofRussian material. Although he is generally associated rather with the largerscale of orchestral music, he wrote a number of smaller pieces for the piano,including a set of twelve, under the title The Seasons, a musicalcalendar. October brings a late Russian autumn.

The famous Barcarolle, theVenetian boating-song from Offenbach's opera, The Tales of Hoffmann,opens the third act of the work, which firmly establishes the scene as Venice.

In fact the song originated not from the Grand Canal but from the Rhine,forming part of a much less successful opera by Offenbach, Rheinnixen, TheSprites of the Rhine.

Fryderyk Chopin, who chose exile from hisnative Poland to make his home in Paris, occupies a special place in thehistory of piano music. Although some have tended to exaggerate a sentimentalelement in his writing, he was, in fact, a composer with a particularlyoriginal approach harmonically, preparing the way for experiments of the end ofthe century, while creating a delicately nuanced poetic language for theinstrument. The D Flat Major Prelude is one of a set of 24 Preludes

that go through all the keys, pieces demonstrating a wide variety of mood.

The Londonderry Air, an Irishfolk-song described by Sir Hubert Parry as "the most beautiful tune in theworld", has travelled far since it first appeared in print in 1855,acquiring on its journey words of various degrees of aptness. It is followedhere by one of Schubert's six little character pieces published in the year ofhis death, ungrammatically, as "6 Moments musicals". Opus 94, No.4,has been described as a romantic excursion into Baroque territory.

Vienna occupied a dominant position inmusic at the close of the eighteenth century, but Schubert was the only one ofthe greater composers of the period to have born there. Mozart was a native ofSalzburg, but quarrelled with his patron, the Archbishop, to spend his finalten years in uneasy independence in the imperial capital. His A Minor Sonata

was written in the summer of 1778, three years before his breach with Salzburg,during the course of a generally unproductive visit to Paris, from which he andhis father had had high hopes. During the summer Mozart's mother, whoaccompanied him on his journey, had died, and some have seen in this sonata apossible expression of his grief.

Musical melancholy of a more obvious kindis found in the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's miniature character-piece"Heimweh", taken from one of the ten sets of Lyric Pieces thathe published. To this Franz Liszt's First Mephisto Waltz provides adiabolical contrast, its inspiration derived from the demon fiddler of NikolausLenau's version of the Faust legend and itself contributing to rumours of thedemonic sources of Liszt's own ability as a pianist.

Peter Nagy

Peter Nagy was born in Eastern Hungary in1960 and is among the leading Hungarian pianists of the younger generation. Asa child he showed exceptional ability, entering the Ferenc Liszt Academy inBudapest at the age of 15, after winning various prizes at home and abroad.

Peter Nagy's first international appearances as a pianist were in Finland andYugoslavia in 1977, followed by concerts at Interforum in 1978 in a duo with BalazsSzokolay, and at Salzburg the following year. In 1978 he toured the German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Unionand in 1979 made his debut in France at the Menton Festival. Since then he hashad further success in France, and has appeared in concerts in the FederalGerma
Disc: 1
Mephisto Waltz No. 1
1 Adagio sostenuto
2 Songs without Words, Op. 102, No. 5: Allegro vivac
3 Adagietto No. 3 from L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1
4 Leise flehen meine Lieder
5 Les Saisons (The Seasons), Op. 37b: October: Autum
6 Barcarolle
7 Prelude No. 15 in D flat major, Op. 28, No. 15
8 Londonderry Air (arr. Peter Nagy)
9 Moment musical in C sharp minor, Op. 94, D. 780, N
10 Andante cantabile
11 Heimweh
12 Mephisto Waltz No. 1
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