A variation on the theme of Czerny
March 18, 2014
by Rosemary Tuck
Pianist Rosemary Tuck, conductor Richard Bonynge and the English Chamber Orchestra collaborate in a felicitous discovery of music by Carl Czerny. Known exclusively today as the resourceful supplier of keyboard studies, his Introduction and Variations Brillantes de l’Opera “Gli Arabi Nelle galle” attests to his additional skills as a composer and orchestrator. Rosemary Tuck gives context to the project.
‘I came across these Czerny works quite by chance. Richard and I were having great fun playing through reams of duets on operatic themes from our collections, and as there can never be enough to explore I began to look further afield. The resulting discovery of these operatic works with orchestra surprised and excited us both, and my immediate thought was to firstly do a program of the works based on themes from the bel canto era, starting with Norma!
Having tracked down the original orchestral parts, my long time musical collaborator Alan Jones prepared them for recording, and it was at this stage we started to realise just how good Czerny’s orchestration was.
As anyone who has studied piano will know, Czerny wrote whole volumes of piano studies which were overwhelmingly successful. Unfortunately this legacy has led to his true abilities as a composer being largely overshadowed and disregarded. Certainly my initial prejudice soon disappeared as I looked further into his musical output.
Working with Richard, we perceived the works to have one foot firmly planted in the classic era, while at the same time the virtuosity involved in the piano part pushed beyond this, creating a fine line between the two. Czerny’s use of popular opera themes of the time were also a major consideration, and while Norma, Frau Diavolo and Il Pirata have all found a place in today’s repertoire, I had never heard of Pacini, let alone his wonderfully titled Gli Arabi Nelle Gallie. Richard’s great insight into the bel canto style, coupled with the excellent English Chamber Orchestra created an ideal balance, and it was a real privilege to work with them.
Both Richard and myself studied with teachers directly linked to Busoni, and therefore our musical lineage travels back through him to Liszt, and then of course Czerny—Liszt’s teacher and a celebrated student of Beethoven. I think this direct link to the composer made the project additionally special to us both.’
Rosemary Tuck Biography & Discography
English Chamber Orchestra Background & Discography
Richard Bonynge Biography & Discography
Carl Czerny Biography & Discography