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Hyperion Records

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The Reluctant Pianist (detail) by William A Breakspeare (1855-1914)
Reproduced by courtesy of Fine Art Photographs, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67606
Recording details: October 2006
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2008
Total duration: 14 minutes 22 seconds

'Philip Martin proves a strong Herz advocate, displaying a genuine affection for the music and all the requisite flair for the abundant trills, roulades, scales … and repeated left-hand jumps' (International Record Review)

'Hyperion continues its invaluable exploration of the piano's highways and byways with this richly enjoyable programme from Philip Martin, focusing on the scintillating output of Viennese child prodigy Henri Herz … the salonesque, radiant charms of the La Cenerentola variations … come tripping off the page in this affectionately sparkling performance from Philip Martin, whose warmly engaging style is a constant source of pleasure throughout' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Philip Martin sounds like he is enjoying himself, and his technique is fully up to the tasks at hand' (Fanfare, USA)

'Herz may not be a great composer, yet his stuff certainly is fun to digest in small doses, especially when you consider Philip Martin's appropriately light and colorful touch, supple finger work, and marvelous sense of dramatic timing … collectors who dote on the rare Romantics need no prodding to acquire this excellently engineered release' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Martin, fresh from his laudable eight-disc survey of Gottschalk's piano music, tackles these well-programmed works with sensuousness and vitality, capturing the ornately flamboyant allure of the music with great affection' (Musical Criticism.com)

Fantaisie dramatique, Op 89
composer
Fantaisie dramatique sur le célèbre choral protestant intercalé par Giacomo Meyebeer dans Les Huguenots (Luther's setting of Psalm 46, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott); dedicated to Mademoiselle Marie Saladin de Prégny

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The full title of the Fantaisie dramatique Op 89 as printed on the cover is Fantaisie dramatique sur le célèbre choral protestant intercalé par Giacomo Meyerbeer dans Les Huguenots. Those expecting a bravura Herzian treatment of ‘the celebrated Protestant chorale’—Luther’s setting of Psalm 46, ‘Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott’—will be disappointed, as will anyone expecting a virtuoso paraphrase on the opera’s themes as in Thalberg’s two stupendous fantasies Op 20 and Op 43, or the three different versions of Liszt’s Réminiscences des Huguenots. In fact, it appears, there is nothing of Meyerbeer at all in Herz’s sixteen-page score.

Robert le Diable (1831) was Meyerbeer’s first major success and laid the foundations of his fabulous wealth. His next triumph, Les Huguenots (February 1836), was greatly anticipated and saw the phenomenon, in the words of Arthur Loesser (Men, Women and Pianos), of ‘an eminently erethic merchandise label, likely to provoke little haemorrhages of money from almost anyone … Through this chink the smooth Henri Herz thought he could squirm himself into a little fresh, if forbidden, sugar.’ Unable to compose a fantasy on the themes from Les Huguenots, since he and Schlesinger, the opera’s publisher, were sworn enemies, Herz published the above-titled work weeks before Schlesinger’s publication date, ‘providing it with a homemade introduction and a gratuitous air de ballet as an epilogue’. Crafty. No Meyerbeer—and ‘Ein’ feste Burg’ had been in the public domain for centuries. The piece is dedicated to Mademoiselle Marie Saladin de Prégny.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2008

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