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Romantic Tales

Romantic Tales

  • By Barbara Nissman
  • Release 02/04/2014
  • Media Format CD
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Price: €25.72

Product Notes

Each composer has a tale to tell, and they make us listen. Chopin writes a 'ballade' without words, returning again and again to the same refrain. He doesn't give us a story-line to follow or tell us what inspired this large-scale, dramatic work- he allows us to fill in the blanks and prepare our own script. Ravel, on the other hand, shares the poetry that inspired the three pieces of 'Gaspard de la Nuit' - the sea-nymph 'Ondine' who tries with her beautiful and seductive singing to lure mortals to her water kingdom- then let's out a shriek of laughter before returning to her palace at the bottom of the ocean. 'Le GIbet' paints a contrasting and much bleaker picture of a doomed man on the scaffold. Ravel makes us feel the eerieness of the dark night and sense the hanged man's limp body swinging back and forth in the wind. Then there is 'Scarbo'- seeming to emerge from the pages of 'Harry Potter.' Scarbo is an elf but a thoroughly bad elf, always causing mischief and chaos wherever he goes. Quite an amazing assortment of characters! Prokofiev supplies a brief interlude with a transcription of a prelude and fugue written for the organ by Buxtehude - a favorite from his student days. He transcribed this piece and shortened it during his period in America, planning to use it in his American concerts. The question remains as to why he took out the difficult middle section and the complicated bits- did he think that American audiences weren't sophisticated enough to understand the really complicated stuff? The first work that Prokofiev wrote after he arrived in America in 1918 (after missing the Russian Revolution in his homeland) was his delightful 'Tales of the Old Grandmother'- four brief tales, told by a confused and rather senile old woman, who sometimes revealed flashes of clarity with her magical stories. By the way, Prokofiev thought No. 4 was the best one of the lot- I find all of them delightful! Another Russian, Alexander Scriabin also has a tale to tell with his impassioned one-movement Fifth Sonata. He seems to journey right to the edge of a steep cliff, begging us to come right along with him. Contrasts are extreme and the gamut of emotions are wide. This man was intense!! Scriabin wrote that ecstasy 'was the ultimate answer to all questions and all activity of mind and body.' After the intensity of Scriabin and before plunging into the manic world of Schumann, Mendelssohn returns us to innocence with his charming Etude in F major- uncomplicated fun and thoroughly delightful! The G minor Sonata was a favorite of Schumann's wife, Clara and she loved performing this work. We feel Schumann's energy and vitality, and the first movement was written to show off Clara's virtuosity. He writes that the first movement should be played 'as fast as possible' and later on says 'faster' and by the coda writes again 'still faster.' He gives us some rest with the lyrical Second movement, and follows this with a gruff, three-part scherzo. Clara didn't like the original finale so Robert wrote another one for her- a virtuosic rondo with two themes that ends with a coda marked 'always faster and faster.' As an encore, Rachmaninoff's poignant Prelude in Gb completes our journey. With this dirge-like composition, this Russian explores his deep dark soul Ah, the wonderful places we can travel with these composers!! "An amazing traversal of many of the monuments of the solo piano literature. Nissman's intelligence, ardor, and versatility all recommend themselves to a listener. I wish I could adequately convey Nissman's ability to make the piano sing. It's the key to her magnificent Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. It's never over-the-top or swooningly sentimental. I might call it 'chaste,' if that word didn't imply 'passionless,' which it certainly is not. It puts me in mind of Hofmannsthal's Marschalin - patrician, clear-eyed. " "This is bravura writing at it's most virtuosic and Nissman meets it head on with stunning bravura." "So Nissman gives us fine accounts of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, delights us in Prokofieff and Mendelssohn, and opens up eyes in Ravel and Schumann. I wonder what she'll do next? I can't wait."


Title: Romantic Tales
Release Date: 02/04/2014
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 617353859331
Item #: 1246120X
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