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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: 4 minutes 32 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)

Danse roumaine
1888; for pedal piano and orchestra; written for Lucie Palicot who gave the first performance in Paris in the winter of 1888/9

Danse roumaine  [4'32]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
On 4 September 1888 Gounod wrote to his wife: ‘All at once I have come up with two pieces that will do nicely for my little Palicote [sic] this winter: one is a Chorale and Toccata [this has not been not located], the other a concertante Danse roumaine with orchestra that will fill out her repertoire somewhat, and I am sure that our good Mme Desgenétais will give her the opportunity to play them at her soirées.’ One hesitates to link this inspiration with the advent of a ravishingly beautiful Romanian singer, Hariclea Darclée, who was scheduled to sing Juliette at the Opéra.

The Danse roumaine was premiered in Paris by Lucie Palicot during the winter of 1888–9, when the composer informs us it was encored, but it remains unpublished. The work is cast in sonata form with an orchestral introduction that outlines the themes. Then a furious toccata for pedal-board alone sweeps the orchestra along with it, and the first theme—a simple cell, energetic and piquant, in D minor without leading note—makes its appearance. It has a whiff of eastern Europe about it, no more than that. Modulating variations lead to the second theme, which runs up and down the scale of F major in dotted rhythms, supported by a viola countermelody.

A furious outburst from the piano launches the development: a folk-like motif combining woodwind and percussion frames further exchanges on the opening motif of the first theme; the latter’s reappearance heralds a recapitulation in which the second theme, introduced by trumpet calls, undergoes considerable development until the advent of a vigorous coda.

from notes by Gérard Condé © 2013
English: Charles Johnston

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