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Hyperion Records

SACDA67515 - Chabrier: Piano Music
SACDA67515

Recording details: June 2004
Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: February 2006
Total duration: 75 minutes 54 seconds

GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE

'Pianists have missed some treats by neglecting Chabrier’s piano music. Angela Hewitt plays this refreshing selection with the same poetry, elegance and dancing touch that made her other French discs for Hyperion so special. The ten Pièces pittoresques take pride of place: dominated by sunshine, delightfully frisky rhythms and an early French Impressionist haze. Fed up of grey skies? Buy this disc and it’s already spring' (The Times)

'Hewitt is at her best here, teasing out the yearning harmonies and shy cadences with a persuasive rubato' (BBC Music Magazine)

'If you don't know Chabrier's piano music, then this is an ideal selection of his best (and best-known) works played with exactly the right amount of tenderness, Gallic wit, verve, and—the most important ingredient of all—charm' (Classic FM Magazine)

'It is very fresh-face playing, bringing out, also, Chabrier's acknowledged debt to the French Baroque keyboard giants, while even Bach seems to hang over the gigue-like Scherzo-valse … Wit and charm are in abundance' (The Daily Telegraph)

'As to Hewitt's performances, they are as affectionate, warm, lyrical and charming as one could wish, underlining but not exaggerating Chabrier's deliciously predictable unpredictability' (Gramophone)

'Angela Hewitt, in one of her best recordings to date, has captured Chabrier's musical spirit perfectly' (International Record Review)

'[Hewitt] is in excellent form throughout…Well worth it, I'd say' (Fanfare, USA)

'In terms of recording, performance, and production, another success for the Hewitt-Hyperion collaboration' (MusicWeb International)

'Perhaps Angela Hewitt's freshly minted, sharply honed interprestations will inspire recitalists to dust off these unsung treasures' (ClassicsToday.com)

Piano Music
Angela Hewitt (piano) Super-Audio CD — Deleted  

Fresh from her distinguished three-disc survey of Couperin, Angela Hewitt turns her attention to the piano music of Emmanuel Chabrier. An important influence for subsequent generations of French composers—most notably Ravel, who acknowledged his debt to the older composer—Chabrier’s music was appreciated more by his fellow artists than by the public. His best works—notwithstanding the popularity of his evergreen orchestral rhapsody España—deserve to be better known.

Chabrier was a sensitive soul, prone to weep on hearing a single chord of Wagner, yet he cultivated a gaiety and sense of joy that is clearly heard in his music. As one biographer wrote: “With Chabrier, burlesque went hand in hand with the sentimental; the picturesque was allied to the emotional.” Chabrier’s passion for painting was unmatched by any other composer, and he was friends with important artists of the day, including Manet, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne and Renoir. He had many of their paintings on his walls, and Manet’s celebrated A Bar at the Folies-Bergère—reproduced on the front cover of this recording—hung above his piano.

Chabrier’s most important works are for the piano. The ten contrasting and evocative Pièces pittoresques form the centrepiece of this recording, and were described by Poulenc as being “as important for French music as the preludes of Debussy”. The remaining works are charming and varied character pieces. All are played with style and affection by Angela Hewitt, who with her renowned warmth and communicative flair makes a very special case for this music.

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