Gounod: Die Werke für Klavier und Orchester-Das Romantische Klavierkonzert Vol. 62
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Audio-CD, 8. November 2013
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Abstecher <br_><br_> Die 62. Folge der HYPERION-Serie zum romantischen Klavierkonzert macht einen interessanten Abstecher : Die vier hier eingespielten konzertanten Werke sind nämlich allesamt für das Pedalklavier geschrieben. Hierbei handelt es sich um ein Klavier, welches ähnlich wie bei einer Orgel über eine separate Klaviatur für die Füße verfügt. Neben der außergewöhnlichen Klangerfahrung eines Pedalklaviers bietet die vorliegende Aufnahme aber auch die Gelegenheit, den Opernkomponisten Charles Gounod einmal als ebenso versierten Instrumentalkomponisten kennenzulernen, der diese Werke für die junge Virtuosin Lucie Palicot schrieb.
This release is certainly 'off the beat' but it is definitely worth exploring. --IRR, Nov'13
Gounod's box of bonbons is an unexpected delight. --Gramophone, Dec'13
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The Program - Charles Gounod - The Romantic Piano Concerto - 62 - The Complete Works for Peal Piano and Orchestra - Roberto Prosseda, pedal piano and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Howard Shelley, conductor - HYPERION - TT: 55:56 - Suite concertante in A major - (1886) - i. Entrée de fete - Moderato maestoso; ii. Chasse - Allegro con fuoco; iii. Romance - Andante cantabile; iv. Tarantelle - Vivace; Concerto for Pedal Piano in E-flat major - (1889) - v. Allegro moderato; vi. Scherzo; vii. Adagio ma non troppo; viii. Allegretto marziale - (pomposo); ix. Fantasie sur l'hymne national russe; x. Danse roumaine - (1888).
The performances are elegant, witty, charming, sometimes large in musical scope and sometimes warm and delicate. This Italian pianist is known for his work in the select compositions of Felix Mendelssohn. HIs tone is always warm, full of nuance, phrasing and has a total understanding for the art of the musical phrase. These attributes may be found throughout this release. The orchestral accompaniments as conducted by Howard Shelley are beautifully balanced and full of nuance, expression and have a total art for the musical whole.
Excellent program notes in English, French and German by Gerard Conde are available here and make for educational and listening pleasure. A highly recommended release for any pianist, musician or aficionado who enjoys unique 19th century piano repertoire.
This CD features Gounod's complete works for pedal piano and orchestra. Now, if you think you're going to hear a piano with a very different timbre to what you'd hear in orchestral works for a regular piano, you'll be disappointed. The works on this CD sound just like a regular piano, the only difference being that the soloist can use the pedal to play the left hand parts in octaves.
As for the music... I can't say I've heard much Gounod in my life; this CD is the most of Gounod's oeuvre that I've ever listened to. Yet I know that he was one of the most famous French opera composers in the second half of the 19th century along with Meyerbeer and Massenet.
The pieces in this recording remind me somewhat of Hummel. Not his style, but his ability to write sublime passages intertwined with musical clichés and rubbish. Gounod achieves this in all the works on this CD.
It is hard to pick out great music on this album, but if anything, the Adagio ma non troppo of the Piano Concerto in E-flat major must stand out as a piece of music possessing true beauty which holds one's ears captivated for the duration.
The fine pianist and musician, Howard Shelley, conducts the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana accompanying the not-so-terrifically-difficult solo piano parts, played by Roberto Prosseda, excellently. The soloist and orchestra all imbue Gounod's music with as much interpretive and technical skill as it contains and generally make it sound better than it is.
The recording quality is quite good technically, except for being a bit in your face unless you adjust your stereo to a higher level of acoustic delay. If you do that, the sound is excellent, albeit the microphone placement puts a bit too much emphasis on the brass section at the expense of the rest of the orchestra (or maybe the conductor couldn't get the brass section to play anything below a mezzo forte, which is something that many an orchestral brass section can't seem to do). Those quibbles said, it is a musically excellent CD which you shouldn't hesitate to buy due to any major faults with the musical performances or recording mastering not being first-rate: On the whole, this CD is wonderfully played and well-recorded.
I give this recording 4 stars; not for the musical performance, which is easily worth 5 stars, but due to Gounod's music. I rarely evaluate music by dead composers in my reviews, but in this case I have to make an exception. Gounod is just not in the same class as Saint-Saens, Massenet, Franck etc. when it comes to composing this kind of absolute non-operatic music. Unless you're a musicologist by profession or madly in love with Gounod's music, I'd recommend you pass on this CD in the otherwise great series of recordings in Hyperion's "The Romantic Piano Concerto" epic.
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