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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67975
Recording details: October 2012
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: November 2013
Total duration: 19 minutes 47 seconds

'A real winner … one of the very jolliest of piano-and-orchestra recordings to come my way for some time … being Gounod, it is supremely well-crafted melodic music but the kind of material that can collapse like a soufflé without the right cast to show it in its best light … Hyperion's cast is top drawer … given exactly the right light touch and deft execution, abetted by Howard Shelley's stylish accompaniment, Gounod's box of bonbons is an unexpected delight' (Gramophone)

'Excellent performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Very well played by Roberto Prosseda' (The Guardian)

'These four works are often charming and witty, sometimes massive and sometimes delicate. Prosseda plays all of the solo parts with Gallic elegance, while Howard Shelley encourages the strings of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana to play with superb legato, and the woodwinds to combine with the upper register of the piano in delightful tintinnabulations. Hyperion's recorded sound expands and contracts in accord with the sonority of the music. This release is certainly 'off the beaten track' but it is definitely worth exploring' (International Record Review)

'Gounod composed four works for piano and orchestra, and these are expertly captured on this Hyperion album … the sound world is fascinating; a multi-textured tapestry woven by an empowered soloist. The neoclassical Suite concertante in A major has fire in its belly, full of swooping melodies and earworm motifs. The Concerto juxtaposes light and dark, yet retains a playful character' (International Piano)

‘Im Klavierkonzert [werden] triumphale Gestik und aristokratischer Habitus allerdings hinter eleganten Arabesken und melancholischen Passagen verschleiert … parallel zu den Orchesterstimmen, von Howard Shelley genau balanciert, kann Roberto Prosseda den nicht allzu virtuosen Duktus makellos in die „Chasse“, in die sehr liebliche Romanze und schließlich bis zur perkussiven Tarantella nahtlos integrieren’ (Piano, Germany)
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

Concerto for pedal piano in E flat major
composer
1889; written for Lucie Palicot

Allegro moderato  [4'29]
Scherzo  [3'36]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Concerto for pedal piano in E flat major remained unpublished because Gounod, finding that the cost of hiring the parts for the Suite concertante hindered its diffusion, gave sole ownership of this new work to Lucie Palicot in September 1889, thus guaranteeing her exclusivity and free use. The desire to spotlight the contribution of the pedal-board is more apparent here than in the Suite and the recurrence of certain formulas from one movement to the next reinforces the work’s cohesion.

From the outset the tone of the Allegro moderato is that of Beethovenian heroism. An initial development leads to the second theme, which is chordal without excessive heaviness and suggests a song of triumph. First stated by the piano, it no sooner receives an embryonic echo from the orchestra than the soloist transposes it, and the power struggle between them will form the material for this second, more modulatory development. A disguised recapitulation brings back the second theme, followed by a final development.

A modulating introduction on the orchestra, then the piano, opens the brisk, piquant Scherzo. The solo piano presents the initial strain of the first part of the movement, in which keyboard and pedal-board interact in imitation. The orchestra joins in, doubling them, for the second part, where legato phrases attempt to dominate staccato. The Trio is more sustained in character. The piano occupies the foreground with fairly subdued support from the trumpet, then a few discreet doublings. The Scherzo section is then reprised dal segno al fine without formal repeats.

The Adagio ma non troppo gives the impression of a funeral march. After a sombre orchestral introduction, the piano threads its solitary way through the first section. The central section provides the first broad, lyrical melody in the work. This song of hope is one of those eloquent inspirations so characteristic of Gounod. Then the march is resumed by piano and orchestra, which follow a common course until the conclusive wails from the horns.

The more important role accorded to orchestral timbres, the brio of the keyboard writing and the sustained rhythmic verve all ensure the finale makes an undeniable effect. The music has the character of a rondo, although not the structure: four episodes succeed one another linked by their sheer affinity. Despite the warlike accents of trumpets and percussion, the movement never abandons a spirit of playfulness.

from notes by Gérard Condé © 2013
English: Charles Johnston

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