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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
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: 10 minutes 52 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 et variations sur der airs nationaux américains variés, Op 158
composer
using Jackson's March/Chapel Hill Serenade, Hail Columbia, Yankee Doodle

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Fantaisie et Variations sur des Airs nationaux américains variés Op 158 is an early (the earliest?) example of the many sets of variations on American national airs composed by visiting European pianists with the aim of ingratiating themselves with their audiences. It seems that, like Gottschalk a decade or so later, Herz was inspired to write a work wherever he visited, for there is also a Fantaisie mexicaine Op 163, La Californienne Op 167 and La Brésilienne Op 195.

Herz sets the scene for his Fantaisie and Variations with a maestoso introduction, a cadenza and a sentimental music-box theme before arriving at his first American national air entitled ‘Jackson’s March’. Assiduous research has failed to unearth any source or score for this tune, though there is an obscure folk song of this name with the alternative title of ‘Chapel Hill Serenade’. It is not one of America’s best-known national airs. ‘Hail Columbia’, on the other hand, which follows, is one the country’s most recognizable anthems. It was composed for, and played at, the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 and is attributed to the German-born Philip Phile (1734–1793). Herz sets this in F major following it with a strange tremolando interlude in D flat major that leads into a brief fugato section in A major. After a vapid scale passage we arrive in the home key of E major for ‘Yankee Doodle’ (or ‘Dondle’ as the score prints it), a tune familiar since pre-Revolutionary days and sung to various different lyrics. Three brilliant variations follow before Herz combines ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘Jackson’s March’ by the unusual expedient of scoring the right hand in 2/4 and the left in common time (c). Forceful octaves and brilliant arpeggios bring the drama to a rousing conclusion.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2008

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