The Essential Hyperion 2
HYP20 2CDs Super-budget price sampler — 2CDs Deleted
No 1: Tierces majeures et mineures
No 2: Traits chromatiques
No 3 Part 1: Prélude. Moderato agitato
No 3 Part 2: Fugue. Moderato espressivo
No 4: Les cloches de Las Palmas
No 5: Tierces majeures chromatiques
No 6: Toccata d'après le 5e Concerto
A winged poetry permeates the five-finger chromatic figures of No 2, Traits chromatiques. Surely Debussy had this étude somewhere in his subconscious when he wrote his étude, Pour les degrés chromatiques?
A rather more angular Prélude et Fugue in E flat minor displaces the impressionistic world of the first two études. Shifting quaver chords agitate a courageous, thrusting theme in the prelude, which eventually quietens into a thoughtful fugue subject, taken up in four voices and rounded off by a big finish. The seductive world of the Canary Islands is conjured up by No 4, Les cloches de Las Palmas. Repetition and the creation of atmosphere are the technical exercises involved—a rather imaginative tone poem is the result.
No 5, Tierces majeures chromatiques, again delights in the difficulty of thirds—this time major chromatic thirds. A sense of humour inflects its moto perpetuo feel. It is dedicated to Édouard Risler, probably the first truly great French-trained pianist, after Saint-Saëns himself, and a major artistic influence on Alfred Cortot.
As with Opus 52, the best piece is sensibly saved for last. The Toccata d’après le 5e Concerto is dedicated to Raoul Pugno, renowned for his brilliant deftness. Its themes, as the title suggests, are from Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 5 (the third movement), composed three years before this étude. It pre-dates the toccatas of Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev and has comical references to ragtime, which, in those years, was traversing the Atlantic to fervent European welcome. Octaves, left-hand leaps and arpeggiated chords are despatched with authentic pianistic imagination. It is a tour de force and deserving of a wider audience.
from notes by Piers Lane © 1998