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Colin Anderson
International Record Review, April 2012

WALLACE, W.V.: Opera Fantasies and Paraphrases (Tuck, Bonynge) 8.572774
WALLACE, W.V.: Celtic Fantasies (Tuck, Bonynge) 8.572775

[William Vincent Wallace’s] paraphrases are…arranged adeptly and with dedication. Be it Rigoletto, La Traviata, or La sonnambula , and several other famous operas, the familiar melodies are treated with respect and remain recognizable…the tunes are enough and it’s good to be reminded of their indelible qualities…Wallace’s arrangements of his own operas…many now be a useful calling-card to rekindle interest in his own pieces. ‘The Night Winds’ from Lurline is effective, and the Grande Fantaisie from his most successful stage work Maritana suggests it as a piece of some worth…

…the popular tunes that he sought to decorate and extend are firmly engaging and memorable. Sentimental, sweet and positive, it’s good to be reminded of these ballads or discover new ones, even if sometimes Wallace usurps their essential simplicity. The Blue Bells of Scotland, Home Sweet Home (Bishop) and Ye Banks and Braes (Robert Burns) are recognizable titles, as are the melodies, and others make for attractive listening.

Rosemary Tuck plays with skill and affection, never trying to over-inflate, and it’s good to have Richard Bonynge when a second pianist is required. They are a well-matched pair and are not only enjoying themselves but they appreciate the essence of Wallace’s arrangements. The recording presents the piano(s) as warm and immediate. Peter’s booklet notes are a helpful introduction to Wallace and his work. © 2012 International Record Review

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, January 2012

I got a great deal of pleasure from this disc, and recommend it to those who love opera and/or the piano, and enjoy out-of-the-way repertoire. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Raymond J Walker
MusicWeb International, September 2011

Over the last decade, Australian pianist, Rosemary Tuck, has formed a comfortable liaison with this composer.

This disc focuses on arrangements Wallace wrote for the operas that reached American shores whilst he was resident there in the 1850s.

Since Wallace himself was a competent virtuoso pianist (as well as violinist) he developed a flamboyant style that is well-captured in Rosemary Tuck’s accomplished playing. Assertive and energetic readings of forte passages are nicely contrasted with delicate and crisp articulation of fine detail in pianissimo sections. Her handling of intricate filigree and dynamics is a delight to the ear. Wallace would have included these pieces to demonstrate virtuoso keyboard skills during his recitals whilst touring in America.

The composer’s skill at interweaving motifs of well-known operas produces enjoyable results: his arrangements with decoration make engaging listening. The five fantasies to me are superb: not only do they radiate colourful texture but include those melodies by which most of us would have chosen to represent the operas concerned. The relaxed, yet majestic, L’Elisir d’Amore is sumptuous and has a particularly balletic elegance in this interpretation. It is good to see that Rosemary Tuck has joined forces with Richard Bonynge, perhaps the world’s most notable authority on Wallace the composer. They clearly work ideally as a team.

The pianos are placed at a medium distance where intricate detail and attack is still clear and yet is balanced by a generous bloom and warmth of tone provided by the reverberation. This is particularly noticed during the opening section of the Fantaisie de Salon sur l’opéra La Sonnambula (tr 3) and is a credit to Phil Rowlands’ technique.

Peter Jaggard’s notes in English give us interesting background and put the pieces in useful context. It is interesting to find that the four-handed versions were written principally for his second wife who would have joined him in his engagements.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

Leading a colourful life, the highly gifted Irish-born composer, William Vincent Wallace is today known for little more that his once hugely popular opera Maritana. Maybe accounts of a life that picture him leaving behind a trail of women and financial debt has been a little exaggerated, though he rarely stayed in the same place for long having made his home in Australia, Chile, Mexico, United States, Germany, England and ending his days in France. His success as a composer slipped away from him during his lifetime, and he returned to the United States in the 1850’s where he hoped to reignite the concert hall success he had once enjoyed. It was there that he composed a series of showpieces based on popular operatic melodies, and, as a direct contemporary of Liszt, he would have been well aware of the success he was enjoying with opera melodies used in paraphrases and transcriptions. It is not overstating Wallace’s achievements to say that the two composers could stand comparison in this genre. The ten included here include Verdi’s La Traviata and Nabucco, Bellini’s La Sonnambula, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore, with one of the most extensive works taken from his own Maritana. Never quite asking for the ‘impossible’ as Liszt demanded, Wallace’s scores glitter with bravura and a requirement for a show of dexterity. At times the Australian pianist, Rosemary Tuck, uses some very loose rhythms, and she certainly enjoys stoking up tempos for final moments. Conductor-pianist Richard Bonynge joins her in the Variations on L’elisir d’amore and the disc’s most extended work based on Halevy’s once popular, L’eclair, both written for four hands. Highly enjoyable.

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