Piano Concertos by Grieg and Liszt/Busoni

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Piano Concertos by Grieg and Liszt/Busoni


This CD partners the wonderfully Romantic Piano Concerto in A minor, by Grieg with the Rhapsodie éspagnole by Liszt, arranged by Busoni. Also on this disc is the charming and rarely recorded Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra by Gabriel Faure.

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This CD partners the wonderfully Romantic Piano Concerto in A minor, by Grieg with the Rhapsodie éspagnole by Liszt, arranged by Busoni. Also on this disc is the charming and rarely recorded Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra by Gabriel Faure.

Edvard Grieg – Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Felicja Blumental – piano
Hans Swarowski- conductor
Vienna Pro Musica Orchestra

  • Allegro molto moderato (12’41)
  • Adagio (6’33)
  • Allegro moderato molto e marcato – Andante maestoso (11’27)

Gabriel Fauré – Fantasie for piano and Orchestra, Op. 111 (14’30)

Felicja Blumental – piano
Rudolf Schwarz – conductor
Philharmonia Orchestra

Franz Liszt/Ferrucio Busoni – Rhapsodie éspagnole for piano and orchestra, S254

Felicja Blumental – piano
Helmut Froschauer – conductor
Prague Symphony Orchestra

  • I: Folies d’Espagne (5’55)
  • II: Juta aragonesa (2’37)
  • III (un poco meno allegro) (7’39)

Total running time (61’08)

In Leipzig in 1858, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) attended a performance by Clara Schumann of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto. It had a profound and lasting effect on the Young Norwegian composer, who set about composing his own Piano Concerto in the same key some ten years later (1868). This was a particularly happy time in Grieg’s life. He had married Nina Hagerup the previous year, their daughter had recently been born and the family was enjoying a holiday in the Danish countryside. The concerto is often described as “Schumannesque” in style, but the virtuousic flourishes are often compared to those of Liszt. The premiere was held ain Copenhagen in April 1869, performed by Norweigen pianist Edmund Neupert, to whom the work was dedicated. In the audience was Rubinstein who is reported to have been astounded by the performance, and was keen to become acquainted with the genius composer. The success brought Grieg international recognition and continued enthusiasm for his later works. This concerto remains one of the most popular pieces of music ever written and for many, illustrates perfectly the essence of 19th century romanticism.

Fauré’s Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra was rarely recorded and we are delighted to include it in here, with Felicja Blumental (piano) and the Philharmonia Orchestra . It was unusual of Fauré to write in this genre, free from the influence of poets such as Hugo, Gautier and Baudelaire, whose work he turned to so frequently for inspiration. Fauré was an exceptionally talented pianist but the majority of his works for piano were romantic songs so this Fantasie is certainly a rare gem.

Franz Liszt was also recognised as a virtuoso pianist as well as respected composer. A Spanish influence first took hold during his 1845 tour and remained with him until it found full voice in Rhapsodie éspagnole for solo piano some 18 years later. Despite a rather haunting opening, the work rapidly develops and unfolds in to several wonderful episodes; Folies d’Espagne and Juta Aragonesa. La Folia derives from a 16th century Portuguese dance which has attracted many composers, in particular those of the Baroque period, Corelli and Vivaldi. Juta Aragonesa is also a dance, but it originates from the Spanish region, Aragon. These dances were no doubt the temptation for Busoni. His arrangement dated 1894, makes full use of these dance rhythms with percussive enhancements and harmonic embellishments.

Hans Swarowski (1899-1975)

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Has Swarowski enjoyed a successful career as both teacher and conductor. Swarowski himself was taught in Vienna by Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Richard Strauss. He performed throughout Europe, conducting in major cities such as Prague, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin and Zurich.

After WWII, having taken flight from Nazis, Swarowski’s career began to flourish. He accepted the post of Professor of Conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts, where his pupils included Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta, Mariss Jansons, Bruno Weil and Giuseppe Sinopoli. Swarowski frequently conducted at the Vienna Staatsoper while fulfilling a conducting post in Graz from 1947- 1950. Subsequent work came with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and as a result , his reputation soared as a notable conductor of works from the Classical and Romantic periods.

In Vienna, a conductor’s competition was set up in Swarowski’s name. It continues to attract rising stars of the conducting world.

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway and studied at the Leipzig Conservatory graduating in 1862. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis which left him with only one lung but his desire to compose and develop a musical identity of his native country shaped his career. Grieg moved to Copenhagen to continue his studies. In 1867, against his family’s wishes, he married his cousin, Nina Hagerup who was also a talented pianist and the couple set up home in Oslo where Grieg taught piano and conducted and started working as a musician. He composed mainly during the summer holidays and developed and used Norwegian folk melodies as national elements in his music while embracing the current trends of romanticism. During a trip to Rome, he received great encouragement from fellow composers, Franz Liszt and it was his renowned Piano Concerto that brought him his international breakthrough in 1868,

Gabriel Fauré (1845- 1924)

French composer and teacher Gabriel Fauré was the youngest of six children. He trained at the Ecole Niedermeyer showing great aptitude as an organist and pianist . Fauré was enlisted in the Franco-Prussian was during which he was often found performing recitals to those staying in derelict buildings surrounding Paris. At the end of the war, Fauré received a “Croix de Guerre” for his participation in several battles and returned to work as an organist. He is much admired for his piano music and particularly for his romantic song. Fauré was a popular character, who had many lifelong friendships ( Camille Saint-Saëns among others) Some even referred to him as “The Cat”, a nickname given to Fauré on account of his delicate mannerisms.

Franz Liszt (1811- 1886)

Hungarian composer, pianist and teacher, Franz List enjoyed an illustrious career. He extended forms and themes while composing imaginative and demanding works for the instrument by incorporating heavily enriched harmonies to resemble orchestral sounds. Liszt was much admired by fellow composers such as Berlioz, Wagner and Saint-Saëns, whose works he promoted and of which he arranged performances. He was also friends with writers and artists as well as composers and enjoyed several romances throughout his lifetime. He had three children, one of whom became the wife of Hans Von Bulow (notable German pianist and conductor). She later married composer, Richard Wagner. Liszt died whist at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, in 1866, but his impact on the art of piano playing remained unquestionable.

Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924)

Like Liszt, Italian composer and pianist, Ferrucio Busoni championed and composed complex works. Both his father and mother (who was German) were musicians and Busoni benefited from his command of this second language when he began performing around Europe, giving his first concert in Trieste. During his travels, he met Brahms (who dedicated his Op. 16 Etudes to him), Reinecke, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Sinding, Mahler, Sibelius and Delius. Busoni was recognised as a talented pianist, composer and arranger while respected for his musical theories and aesthetics. He remains and important figure in the development of modern music.


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