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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: 8 minutes 36 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)

Fantaisie sur l'hymne national russe
September 1885; for pedal piano and orchestra; dedicated to Lucie Palicot who gave the first performance at the Salons Érard on 16 November 1885, Gounod accompanying on another piano

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Fantaisie sur l’hymne national russe dates from 1885. Completed towards mid-September, this paraphrase of Alexey L’vov’s anthem God Save the Tsar was premiered on 16 November at the Salons Érard in Paris by Lucie Palicot, its dedicatee, with the composer accompanying her on a standard piano. The orchestral version received its first performance under the direction of Édouard Colonne at the Théâtre du Châtelet on 23 February 1886. We do not know what opportunity or reasons of friendship may have prompted Gounod to choose this theme.

After a brassy introduction, a condensed synthesis of the anthem, the piano states its two sections, then repeats them with the orchestra enriched by virtuoso pedal playing. A second exposition follows the same principle of contrast of colour and texture, but now it is the brass, not the piano, that alternates with the full orchestra while the soloist presents a countermelody in semiquavers, sometimes on the pedal-board and sometimes on the keyboard.

The development introduces more numerous modulations. It is based on a broken four-note motif ‘à la Bach’ that eventually takes on the form of a fugal subject. The climax comes with a varied restatement of the hymn by the entire orchestra, supported by piano arpeggios and brightened by the glittering sound of the triangle. The conclusion, though deploying all the pomp called for by the context, is none the less coherent for that.

from notes by Gérard Condé © 2013
English: Charles Johnston

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