We have five new releases of keyboard music this month: a ballet transcription, two reflections on religious conviction, and two guides to 'finger finesse'.
Warren Lee, performs Beethoven's own transcription of his music for the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus; Tom Winpenny performs another of Messiaen's major organ works on a magnificent instrument by Kleis, the German organ builder; Wojciech Waleczek treats us to the original version of one of Liszt's most famous religious works; and a pair of releases by Nicolas Horvath and Carl Petersson on the Grand Piano label offer students help with performance dexterity in masterful demonstrations of widely-used exercises by Czerny and Burgmüller.
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
The Creatures of Prometheus
Version for Piano
Warren Lee, Piano
Ludwig van Beethoven was commissioned by the dancer and choreographer Salvatore Viganò to write the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus – an allegorical story based on the myth of Prometheus – and the composer’s piano version of the orchestral score was published not long after its premiere in 1801. Beethoven turned his symphonic style and skill in pictorial representation to conjure scenes of stormy excitement alongside elegant dances and the sublime aura of beauty surrounding the legendary musicians Orpheus, Amphion and Arion. The Finale is crowned by a theme that would later be used in the ‘Eroica’ Symphony.
Listen to an extract from Act I:
Adagio - Allegro con brio
Franz LISZT (1811–1886)
Complete Piano Music, Vol. 53
Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
Wojciech Waleczek, Piano
A central element in Franz Liszt’s life was his religious conviction, these deepest of sentiments being expressed in much of his music. One of the greatest achievements from among his astonishing quantity of religious works is a cycle of pieces entitled Harmonies poétiques et religieuses. These were inspired by the poetry of Alphonse de Lamartine, and the echoes of these striking verses resound in pieces that are both impassioned and movingly meditative, the works included here presenting the cycle’s original intention to adhere closely to Lamartine’s eponymous collection of poems.
V. Miserere d'après Palestrina
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité
(‘Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity’)
Tom Winpenny, Organ
Olivier Messiaen’s Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité grew out of improvisations that he performed at the inauguration of the rebuilt organ of La Trinité in 1967. It became his largest cycle to date and marks Messiaen’s first use of ‘communicable language’, in which each letter of the alphabet is assigned a unique pitch and note-value, thereby translating text into music. Haunting harmonies, awe-inspiring monumental grandeur and the deepest profundity of expression are contrasted by the innocence of birdsong with the recurrent call of the yellowhammer, a tranquil voice from nature amid kaleidoscopic Biblical themes.
Listen to an extract from
II. La Sainteté de Jésus-Christ
Friedrich BURGMÜLLER (1806–1874)
25 Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100
18 Characteristic Studies, Op. 109
In 1832 German-born Friedrich Burgmüller (1806–1874) settled in Paris where he became internationally admired for his salon pieces and studies. At a time when demand for new teaching material had reached unprecedented heights, he supplied a sequence of works that appealed to the amateur market by virtue of their musical interest and appropriate technical demands.
Written for the burgeoning market for piano teaching material, the set of 25 Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100 was soon followed by the 18 Characteristic Studies, Op. 109, a continuation of the earlier set, each piece bearing a charming title. They continue to provide a basis for teaching to this day.
Listen to an extract from 18 Études de genre:
No. 15. Les Sylphes
Carl CZERNY (1791–1857)
30 Études de Mécanisme, Op. 849
Carl Czerny, a student of Beethoven – whose music remained an inspiration – occupied an important place in the musical landscape of his time as both performer and pedagogue. His own students, such as Liszt, transmitted his teaching principles which were available in a large number of groundbreaking exercises and études.
Czerny wrote his 30 Études de mécanisme, Op. 849 (‘30 Studies of Technique’) at a time of exceptionally high demand for teaching material. The Studies make use of a limited range of keys but are intended as an introduction for students to the ‘School of Velocity’. Perfectly placed between his simpler and more virtuosic Studies, Czerny’s Études have remained in demand to the present day.
Listen to an extract from 30 Études de Mécanisme, Op. 849:
No. 25 in D major: Allegro en galop
About the Artists
made his debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of six. A graduate of London's Royal Academy of Music and the Yale School of Music, he was the First Prize winner of the Stravinsky Awards International Piano Competition and the Grand Prix Ivo Pogorelich in 1995. He has performed on four continents, often in collaboration with international artists and leading orchestras. In 2017 he received the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Alumni Award from the Yale School of Music.
has recorded albums of works by Liszt for the Naxos and Capriccio labels. He has achieved success in many competitions, including at the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition ‘Premio Mario Zanfi’, the International Competition for Young Pianists Arthur Rubinstein in Memoriam and the Seiler International Piano Competition. He received the Decoration of Honour Meritorious for Polish Culture from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland in 2017.
was organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. As a soloist, he has performed in the United States, Europe and throughout Britain. Recent engagements include recitals in Västerås Cathedral in Sweden, Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix in the US and Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. He has broadcast frequently on BBC radio and featured on American Public Media’s Pipedreams
. He is currently Assistant Master of the Music at St Albans Cathedral in the UK.
has become noted for his organisation of concerts of unusual length, sometimes lasting over twelve hours, such as the performance of the complete piano music of Philip Glass at the Paris Philharmonie before a cumulative audience of 14,000 people; Alvin Curran’s Inner Cities XL;
and the complete piano music of Erik Satie. In October 2015 he gave the closing day concert in the Estonia Gallery at the Expo World Exhibition in Milan with a programme of music by Jaan Rääts.
Born in 1981 in Lund, Sweden, Carl Petersson
began playing the piano at the age of 15. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen with José Ribera, and during this time partook in numerous international masterclasses. Petersson was awarded the Tel-Hai International Piano Master Classes scholarship four years in succession, studying with Pnina Salzman, Viktor Derevianko and Emanuel Krasovsky. In 2013 Petersson received his PhD from the Academy of Music in Kraków.