The Operatic Pianist: Volume II

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Catalogue No: DDA 25153
EAN/UPC: 809730515323
Artists:
Composers: , , , , , ,
Release Date: September 2017
Genres:
Periods:
Discs: 1

In the mid to late 19th century, piano transcriptions allowed access to the classics for the majority of people who could not attend opera or orchestral performances. In the area of ‘grand opera’ specialists included of course Franz Liszt – and also composers such as Sigismund Thalberg. Andrew Wright is a rarity in the current day being an expert interpreter and also arranger of operatic themes, and as well as an astonishing virtuosity enabling the drama of the scene to be preserved, he also keeps alive the tradition by which opera tunes became popular.

Following the critical praise given to the original ‘Operatic Pianist’ album, this set includes transcriptions and fantasies by Wright, Thalberg, Liszt, Kullak, Leschetizky and Jaëll and amazingly a fine work by Saint-Saëns receiving its world premiere recording.

Intense, dramatic and full of action this will appeal to both opera lovers and piano afficionados.

Track Listing

    Alfred Jaëll (1832-1882):

  1. Reminiscences of Norma (after Vincenzo Bellini) *
  2. Andrew Wright (b.1967):

  3. Col sorriso d’innocenza (from Bellini’s Il Pirata)*
  4. Theodore Leschitizky (1830-1915):

  5. Andante Finale de Lucia di Lammermoor (after Gaetano Donizetti)
  6. Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871):

  7. Fantasie sur Mosè in Egitto (after Giachino Rossini)
  8. Franz Liszt (1811-1886):

  9. Lohengrin’s Admonition (“Athmest du nicht”) (after Richard Wagner)
  10. Andrew Wright (b.1967):

  11. Paraphrase on Verdi’s Miserere (from Il Trovatore)*
  12. Theodor Kullak (1818-1882):

  13. Cavatine de Robert le Diable (after Giacomo Meyerbeer)*
  14. Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921):

  15. Concert Paraphrase on la Mort de Thaïs (after Jules Massenet)*
  16. Franz Liszt (1811-1886):

  17. Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi (after Richard Wagner)

Reviews

The Chronicle

The playing is superb; even a non-pianist can tell that in places Wright is playing at world-class levels. If it has a drawback (and it’s hard to really be critical on something this good), it’s that the styles range considerably, from the gentle and calming to the highly ornate, fiendishly complex. On the other hand, and this is a big plus, if you’re not too keen on opera, you get all the best bits.

” —Jeremy Condliffe
Gramophone

In terms of musical and pianistic invention, of greater interest (than the Jaëll and Leschitzky) are Thalberg’s Moses Fantasy, one of the pieces he played during the famous Paris ‘duel’ with Liszt at the Princess Belgiojoso’s, and Saint-Saëns’s treatment of Massenet’s Thaïs, titled La mort de Thaïs.Wright admirably avoids over-playing and his pedalling is always judicious.

” —Patrick Rucker
MusicWeb International

Horrendously difficult technical passages, spectacular and jolly difficult. [In Thalberg’s Fantasie alone] there are horrendously complex pianistic configurations including fiendish octave passages, ‘sweeping arpeggios’ and extremely fast chromatic melodic patterns… it is utterly amazing. Interestingly, more than half of these ‘paraphrases’ are receiving their “first commercial recording”. Wright’s playing is superb. The sound quality of the recording is ideally balanced: every detail from the most intimate arabesque to the hammered octaves is clear and undistorted.

” —John France
Rafael Music Notes

Divine Art is a record company that focuses its efforts instead on creating very special things… Andrew Wright dazzles with his command and conquest of the pianistic mine fields of [these works]. The demands this repertory places on technical wizardry, including interlocking and alternating and cross-voicing from hand to hand, extended passages using massive octaves, unending arpeggios, and its call for the stamina of a sportsman are beyond the reach of any but the most valiant of pianists. Mr. Wright is one such keyboard artist.

” —Rafael de Acha