The Golden Age of Pianist-Composers
This collection spotlights six legendary pianist-composers from the 19th and 20th centuries. Adolf von Henselt’s ferocious technical studies and Romantic salon pieces led Schumann to dub him ‘the Chopin of the North’. Polish virtuoso Ignaz Friedman’s works offer delightful melodic beauty and harmonic inventiveness set alongside works by his countryman, Józef Hofmann, renowned as a poet of the keyboard. The French master musician Alfred Cortot is represented here with a selection of stylish piano arrangements of works by great composers. As one of Finland’s most respected musicians during the early 20th century, Selim Palmgren displays a wide variety of technical and stylistic challenges with music that is both traditional and visionary; while music by the exiled Russian composer Nikolay Medtner is highly Romantic and spiritually charged. These six towering superstars represent the summit of the piano’s Romantic golden age, heard here in critically acclaimed performances by award-winning pianists.
Sergio Gallo's playing of the pleasantly melodic, cantabile salon pieces by the 19th century German-born piano virtuoso, composer, and pedagogue Adolph Henselt (1814-1889) is lively and attractive. He planned this program intelligently to present the listener with variety and contrast as well as the flavor of this composer’s lovely music.
-- American Record Guide
The legendary Swiss pianist Alfred Cortot's (1877-1962) arrangement for solo piano of César Franck’s Violin Sonata, the centerpiece of this program, is a finger-buster, but He Yue doesn’t make a big deal out of it. His reading is very effective, and even exciting. Given the unusual nature of this program, whose contents are much more than adequately presented by the pianist, I’d rate this CD as of more than average interest.
Paul Stewart, a long-time champion of Medtner’s music, plays a restored period Steinway actually performed on by the composer himself in 1929 in Montreal. Its tone is well worth hearing, especially in the fine audio on offer here, and Stewart’s even more so: he gives an authoritative, expressive and thoroughly listener-friendly reading of the Medtner works presented here.
-- MusicWeb International
The second CD is dedicated to Ignaz Friedman. Joseph Banowetz plays the original, often somewhat melancholy miniatures with great charm. He succeeds in fine changes of mood and a pleasant depth of feeling.
The third CD contains original compositions by the Pole Jozef Kasimierz Hofmann (1876-1957), whom Rachmaninoff considered the best pianist next to him. His compositions are more characteristic than Henselt’s and technically challenging. Artem Yasynskyy plays them with great commitment and technically at a high level.
Selim Palmgren (1878-1951) was a Finnish concert pianist and conductor of international standing. He was a student of Busoni and composed extensively. Jouni Somero has put together a beautiful program of small pieces that show Palmgren’s art in all its range very well. Somero plays sensitively and with beautiful clarity.
Release Date: April 22, 2022
Catalog Number: GP899X
Label: Grand Piano
Number of Discs: 6
Composer: Ignaz Friedman
Performer: Artem Yasynskyy