Hyperion Records

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

'Gounod: The complete works for pedal piano & orchestra' (CDA67975)
Gounod: The complete works for pedal piano & orchestra
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67975  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Track 9 on CDA67975 [8'36]

Fantaisie sur l'hymne national russe
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

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67975 track 9
Recording date
26 October 2012
Recording venue
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Michael Rast
Hyperion usage
  1. Gounod: The complete works for pedal piano & orchestra (CDA67975)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: November 2013
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