Dedicated ‘à mon ami G. Conus’—i.e., Georgy Conus, one of a noted generation of musical brothers—these five pieces form, in their own way, a counterpart both to Rachmaninov’s own Op 10—the seven Morceaux de salon
of 1893/4—which Guthiel published in 1894, and to the early sets of piano works by Scriabin. What places Catoire’s Op 10 on a similar level to these works is his use of thematic transformation. The opening Prélude
announces a simple theme, but one whose simplicity is constantly spun into new aspects. The melodic germs which make up these ideas are further developed in quite unusual ways in each of the following pieces—the second, an effortlessly flowing Prélude
, the brilliant Capriccioso
in G sharp minor (a masterpiece), the nocturnal Rêverie
in A flat and the final impressionistic Légende
in A major.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999