Vilde Frang

Violin

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Zakhar Bron - Brahms Violin Concerto

Zakhar Bron - Brahms Violin Concerto

Masterclass at the Verbier Festival Academy


Brahms:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77: I. Allegro non troppo

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77: II. Adagio


Zakhar Bron (coach); Vilde Frang (violin); Noah Bendix-Balgley (violin)

In German with English subtitles.

Zakhar Bron is known the world over as one of the greatest of all violin teachers and an inspiring performer. Among his students were some of the best known violinists of today like Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov. Professor Bron has taught at the Royal Academy in London, the Conservatory of Rotterdam, the Musikhochschule Lübeck and the Escuela Superior de Musica "Reina Sofia" in Madrid where he still teaches.

In this masterclass he works on the first two movements of Brahms' Violin Concerto.

2 hours 41 minutes

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Masterclass Media Foundation - MMF3042

(DVD Video)

$33.25

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Nielsen & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos

Nielsen & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos


Nielsen:

Violin Concerto, Op. 33 (FS61)

Tchaikovsky:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35


Vilde Frang (violin)

Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eivind Gullberg Jensen

In her third release for EMI Classics the energetic young Norwegian violinist continues the idea of Nordic and Russian concerto pairings established with Sibelius and Prokofiev Concertos on her first album. Here the famous romance of Tchaikovsky’s well-loved violin concerto and Scandinavian poise and unique colouring of Nielsen’s concerto are presented in a rare coupling together on disc.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen wrote his violin concerto during the summer of 1911, in a small Norwegian lakeside hut belonging to fellow composer Edvard Grieg. The concerto is very close to Vilde’s heart, being written in her homeland Norway and premiered in Scandinavia by Danish violinist Peder Møller and the Royal Danish Orchestra. It is a work she is very keen to record and champion. The concerto is unashamedly developed around enticing melodies, giving it a delicacy and simplicity and conjuring up that sense of spaciousness which is so much a part of Scandinavia’s musical and physical landscape.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto needs little introduction and is perhaps the most famous of all violin compositions. It is also regarded as one of the most technically difficult pieces in the repertoire and so is a brilliant showcase for Vilde’s hugely assured virtuosity.

Vilde recorded her debut album with EMI at the age of 22. The recording of Violin Concertos by Sibelius and Prokofiev released in January 2010 was enthusiastically reviewed “rarely has this music sounded so tender, so intimate or so lyrical” (Financial Times) and Independent Record Review called her “prodigiously gifted”. The disc won Best Classical Release at the Norwegian Grammy Awards.

She has been compared to a young Anne-Sophie Mutter, with whom she often performs.

“Frang shows her mettle as soon as she touches Tchaikovsky’s first principal theme, inflected with dynamic dips and weavings guaranteed to make any listener sit up...Solid technique sees her through every peril Tchaikovsky offers, leaving her free to add wit to the dancing finale...The Nielsen itself brings its own special pleasures.” The Times, 1st June 2012 ****

“Frang makes a bold impression with the Bachian multiple-stopping of the opening chords [of the Nielsen]...She brings an even greater spectrum of tonal colour and expressive shading to this music than her outstanding Danish counterpart Nicolaj Znaider...and her virtuosity is second to none...[the Tchaikovsky] deserves to stand beside classic versions” Sunday Times, 17th June 2012

*** The Independent, 16th June 2012

“You can hear more extroverted and confident performances of the Nielsen concerto elsewhere, but Frang’s elfin delicacy and honest individuality are compelling. And the concerto actually sounds like Nielsen’s here, which it too often doesn’t...Frang’s lack of nostalgia – her vigour, irreverence and imagination – makes her a vital and refreshing force.” Andrew Mellor, bbc.co.uk, 27th June 2012

“Frang makes almost as much of a strange adventure out of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto as she does of Nielsen's typically quirky specimen...There can be no higher praise for Eivind Hullberg Jensen and his mellow, warmly recorded Danish orchestra than to say that they're unobtrusive but always likeable companions, matching Frang's chamber-musical sensitivies” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****/*****

“it's the individual moments [of the Tchaikovsky] that stand out. In the Canzonetta, her very quiet entry portrays a sense of fragility, yet before the end of the first phrase her playing has become uninhibitedly emotional...I found Frang's Nielsen quite a revelation...[she] emphasises the music's kaleidoscopic aspect, bringing out the poetic quality of many episodes...All in all, it's a most appealing performance.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2012

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2012

EMI - 6025702

(CD)

$17.00

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Prokofiev & Sibelius - Violin Concertos

Prokofiev & Sibelius - Violin Concertos


Prokofiev:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19

Sibelius:

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47

Two Humoresques Op. 87

Humoreske No. 5 in E Flat, Op. 89, No. 3


EMI Classics is pleased to announce the signing of Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang. Her first recording features the Sibelius Violin Concerto and three Humoresques and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, recorded live with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and conductor Thomas Søndergård. Vilde’s debut recording for EMI Classics is a WDR co-production with support from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.

Stephen Johns, Vice President of A&R, EMI Classics, said, “Vilde Frang is a brilliant young violinist and a protégée of Anne Sophie Mutter. It was Vilde’s performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that first caught our attention. Her special and unique voice, coupled with playing of great fervour and depth, promises a brilliant debut disc.”

Born in Norway in 1986, Vilde Frang began her studies at Oslo’s Barratt-Due Institute of Music and subsequently worked with Kolja Blacher at the Hamburg Musikhochschule. She currently participates in the Kronberg Academy Further Master Studies programme as a student of Ana Chumachenco and holds a scholarship at the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.

After making her debut at the age of ten with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Vilde was engaged by Mariss Jansons to perform with the Oslo Philharmonic. Since then, she has been a soloist with orchestras in Scandinavia, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Baltic countries, the U.S., Singapore and Taiwan.

Vilde Frang made her debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and was immediately re-invited for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in May 2009, when she performed works by Vaughan Williams and Ravel. Classicalsource.com wrote, “Vilde Frang gave [an] ego-free interpretation of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending; the misty sounds she magically conjured added to the mystery of the music; this was playing of fluidity and lightness to create the sensation of a bird in flight. Frang hypnotised the audience and then changed mood and tone for Ravel’s Tzigane, an acidic, rugged and black-humoured display.”

Vilde has participated in music festivals including Verbier, Schleswig Holstein, Mecklenburg Vorpommern and the Bel Air Festival in Chambéry, where she played chamber music with Martha Argerich and the brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon. Vilde has also collaborated with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and Maxim Vengerov. In 2008 she toured Scandinavia, and in 2009 the United States, with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Camerata Salzburg in the Bach Double Concerto, performing at such prestigious venues as Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In November 2008, Vilde performed the Brahms Violin Concerto as guest soloist with the Royal Swedish Ballet Orchestra and conductor Rossen Milanova as part of the ballet, Rättika, by Mats Ek. “From the orchestra pit violinist Vilde Frang gives Brahms Violin Concerto body, dance and poetry. With Frang in their blood the dancers are so musical one wants to cry.” (Expressen) Vilde reprises her Brahms Concerto performances with the Royal Swedish Ballet in September 2009.

Other upcoming engagements include a Wigmore Hall recital (July 2009), Cheltenham Festival with the Hallé Orchestra and Edward Gardner (July 2009), Bad Kissingen and Rheingau festivals (July 2009), a performance of Prokofiev No 1 in Zurich as part of the Orpheum Foundation series with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Fedoseyev (August 2009), Lucerne Festival (September 2009), BBC Philharmonic and Sinaisky (October), NDR Hanover, and Frankfurt Museumorchester (February 2010).

Vilde Frang has won a number of major prizes, among them the Grand Prize of the 2007 Vera and Oscar Ritter Stiftung, a Fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in 2007 and the 2009 Norwegian Soloist Prize. She plays a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin, on loan from the Anne-Sophie Mutter Freundeskreis Stiftung, which has supported Vilde Frang since 2003.

“The Norwegian violinist launches this impressive debut recording with a commanding interpretation of the Sibelius concerto. The slow movement’s sweetly emotional, and she marries the finale’s mix of sinew and twinkle with unusual conviction — it must be her Scandinavian blood.” The Times, 6th February 2010 ****

“Frang makes a considerable impact. It's clear that the Sibelius concerto means a lot to her; she's constantly searching for the tonal quality and manner of playing that will project most strongly her vision of the music...And her technique is secure enough to surmount all Sibelius's virtuoso hurdles.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010

“Frang heralds one of the freshest and most vital accounts of this familiar and frequently recorded work [the Sibelius concerto] in recent years. On display from the off is a vivid sense of intellectual drive and emotional sinew in playing that taps into Scandinavian melancholy and suppressed passion to genuinely engaging effect.” Michael Quinn, bbc.co.uk, 16th February 2010

EMI - 6844132

(CD)

$12.50

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Vilde Frang plays Mozart

Vilde Frang plays Mozart


Mozart:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major K207

Cadenza: Jonathan Cohen

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K219 'Turkish'

Cadenza: Joachim

Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola & Orchestra in E flat major, K364

with Maxim Rysanov (viola)


Following the success of her discs of Romantic and Late Romantic repertoire, Vilde Frang has recorded Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 1 and 5 ‘Turkish’ and the Sinfonia Concertante K364, enabling music lovers to hear the Norwegian violinist perform Classical repertoire on disc for the first time. The impetus for this album was a 2012 orchestral tour of Asia conducted by Jonathan Cohen in which Vilde performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. The vibrancy of their musical collaboration was something both artists were keen to repeat and commit to disc. Jonathan’s Cohen’s chamber orchestra, Arcangelo, proved the ideal partner, joined by violist Maxim Rysanov in the Sinfonia Concertante.

Today we tend to think of Mozart as a keyboard virtuoso but he was also an accomplished violinist. Indeed, in 1769, aged 13, he was appointed honorary concertmaster of the Salzburg Court Orchestra. For many years, it was believed that Mozart composed all five of his violin concertos in 1775, but analysis of handwriting and of the manuscript paper suggests the actual date of the first concerto, K207, was 1773. Filled with brilliant passage work, it is generally characterised by high spirits and is filled with dazzling semiquaver and demisemiquaver passages reflecting the influence of such Baroque Italian virtuosi and composers as Pietro Nardini, Pietro Locatelli and Gaetano Pugnani.

Each of Mozart’s subsequent violin concertos, all composed in 1775, is longer and on a larger scale than the preceding one. By the fifth and last, he had created a work still clearly within the Classical concerto tradition yet, in terms of both length and technical demands, approaching the instrumental concertos of the century to come. The Concerto No. 5 K219 is often referred to as the “Turkish” because of its frenzied Allegro section in the middle of the final movement.

Mozart was experimenting with the cross-over form between symphony and concerto during a tour of Europe in 1779. The result was his Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, composed in Salzburg that same year and probably the greatest of his concertante works. The eminent musicologist Alfred Einstein called it Mozart’s “crowning achievement in the field of the violin concerto” and added that, “Every trace of galanterie has disappeared” to be replaced by the “revelation of the deepest feeling.”

Vilde Frang, born in Norway in 1986, has established herself as one of the leading violinists of her generation, in demand for her musicianship and virtuosity and notable for her thoughtful interpretations and natural sense of style. Since her appearance with Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic when she was twelve years old, her career has developed organically and on her own terms. She has appeared on the world’s leading concert stages with the most prestigious orchestras under the batons of the most admired conductors, as well as in recital and chamber music with such colleagues as Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Martha Argerich, Janine Jansen, Leif Ove Andsnes and Maxim Vengerov. With her mentor Anne-Sophie Mutter, she has toured Europe and the U.S. in Bach’s Double Concerto. In 2012 Vilde was chosen to receive the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award, which sponsored her debut with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink at the 2012 Lucerne Summer Music Festival. Her recordings of concertos by Sibelius, Prokofiev, Nielsen and Tchaikovsky and sonatas by Grieg, R. Strauss and Bartók for EMI Classics, now Warner Classics, won Edison Klassiek and Classic BRIT awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or and a Gramophone Award nomination. Vilde’s 2014/2015 season includes many performances of Mozart concertos.

Under its founder, artistic director and conductor Jonathan Cohen, Arcangelo brings together exceptional musicians who excel on both historical and modern instruments and have a passion for faithful interpretation. Its members, many with flourishing solo and chamber music careers, value the collaboration required of chamber music as the highest expression of music making. Since its formation in 2010, Arcangelo has made a dramatic impact on the musical scene and has already recorded half a dozen albums to high acclaim, including a Gramophone award.

Violist Maxim Rysanov was born in the Ukraine and studied there and at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Winner of the 2008 Classic FM Gramophone Young Artist of the Year award and a former BBC New Generation Artist, he performs widely in Europe, Asia and America. His chamber music partners include Leif Ove Andsnes, Nicola Benedetti, Martin Fröst, Sol Gabetta, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Victoria Mullova, Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov. Through collaborations with such composers as Dobrinka Tabakova, Richard Dubugnon and Valentin Bibik – and many others – he has helped to extend the repertoire for the viola.

“Frang is a brilliant arrival on the violin scene...Her extrovert personality shines through in the rarely heard Mozart first violin concerto... Jonathan Cohen’s direction makes the most of the breathtakingly original textures of [the K364] duo concerto.” The Observer, 8th February 2015 ***

“Vilde Frang plays the first and fifth with a vitality that is fitting for the music of a precocious teenager.” Financial Times, 1st February 2015

“Frang always stays lithe, clean and nimble. So does her lively accompanying British ensemble, Jonathan Cohen’s Arcangelo...If you want your Mozart honest and durable, without fancy frills, look no further.” The Times, 20th February 2015 ****

“With Cohen’s period-instrument Arcangelo ensemble, [Frang and Rysanov] offer a fusion of traditional warmth and a more bracing instrumental style, sparing with vibrato in their solos, although not banishing it altogether. The results are fresh and invigorating, an unusually equal partnership in which the viola — Mozart’s preferred string instrument — is permitted its moments of glory.” Sunday Times, 15th March 2015

“The First Concerto is immediately captivating: light, energetic and brightly coloured...Frang has the knack of breathing life into every note, whether by variations in phrasing, attack, tone or dynamic...There are two complimentary personalities at work in the Sinfonia Concertante...Compelling listening throughout, with button-bright sound.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 *****

“the vitality and sense of freedom she brings to later music is preserved in Mozart; she adopts an airy, graceful style, confining any intense sostenuto to especially expressive moments...This, along with imagining in detail how to bring out the individuality of each phrase, results in performances that compel the attention and, in the quicker movements, expose all the wit of Mozart's youthful imagination.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Concerto Choice - April 2015

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Warner Classics - 2564627677

(CD)

$15.50

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Bartok, Strauss & Grieg: Violin Sonatas

Bartok, Strauss & Grieg: Violin Sonatas


Bartók:

Sonata for Solo Violin, BB 124, Sz. 117

Grieg:

Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 8

Strauss, R:

Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op. 18


Vilde Frang (violin) & Michail Lifits (piano)

One of the leading young soloists to emerge from Scandinavia in recent years, noted particularly for her superb musical expression, as well as her well-developed virtuosity and musicality.

Young Norwegian violinist, Vilde Frang brings together a diverse, yet complimentary selection of sonatas for her second EMI Classics release. The recording is available on CD and digital download from 7° March, 2011.

The youthful, spirited Grieg: Violin Sonata No.1 in F Major, Op. 8 and Richard Strauss: Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18 are paired with Bartók’s technically challenging, musically complex Sonata for Solo Violin, BB 124, Sz. 117. Frang frequently performs the later, which Bartók composed as an homage to Bach, with the Strauss in concert. Vilde is joined by pianist Michail Lifits for this recording

Vilde’s debut recording, Sibelius and Prokofiev: Violin Concertos at 22, received wide-spread critical acclaim. The Financial Times wrote “rarely has this music sounded so tender, so intimate or so lyrical” while Independent Record Review called her “prodigiously gifted”. Vilde has been compared to a young Anne-Sophie Mutter, her mentor, with whom she often performs.

“Frang is clearly a new star in the violin firmament” The Guardian

“In Grieg’s youthful Sonata in F she’s feisty and poetic as the mood turns, with effortless flourishes. Strauss’s equally youthful Sonata in E billows with prodigal invention...[The Bartok is] strongly dispatched with plenty of muscle and heart. Adroit, impassioned, never shallow, Frang is the real thing.” The Times, 12th March 2011 ****

“Vilde Frang's micro-sensitive responses to dynamic, articulation and phrasing...prove a revelation in the heady opulence of the Strauss, which has never sounded so urgently seductive or expressively supple on disc...Finest of all is Bartók's fiendishly demanding Solo Sonata, a virtuoso minefield of technical and musical ingenuity which Frang negotiates with an unflinching sense of musical direction.” Classic FM Magazine, May 2011 *****

“Though Frang's tone generally appears quite light and silvery, she has ample reserves, and none of the climactic moments [in the Strauss] disappoint......In the Bartók I was immediately struck by Frang's fine rhythmic sense and varied tonal palette. Her playing has the necessary physicality for Bartók, without ever appearing forced...overall it's a top-class performance and, indeed, the whole programme is clearly a winner.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011

“This is a singularly impressive recital, both for the choice of music - a mixed programme that works very well as a continuous listen...in which the performances are really quite compelling. Such commanding interpretations are made the more so by the musicians being ideally recorded...This is a spectacularly fine disc of unhackneyed repertoire in richly expressive performances.” International Record Review, April 2011

“Frang plays with astonishing dexterity and musicianship, putting paid to the notion that only Hungarian musicians can play Bartok with any real understanding. This is a quite compelling performance.” Muso Magazine, April/May 2011 *****

GGramophone Awards 2011

Finalist - Chamber

EMI - 9476392

(CD)

$10.75

Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.

The Complete Chopin Edition - 200th anniversary

The Complete Chopin Edition - 200th anniversary


Chopin:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Jerzy Maksymiuk

Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Jerzy Maksymiuk

Fantasia in A major on Polish Airs, Op. 13

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Jerzy Maksymiuk

Krakowiak - Concert Rondo in F, Op. 14

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Jerzy Maksymiuk

Variations on Mozart's 'La ci darem la mano' in B flat major, Op. 2

Alexis Weissenberg (piano)

Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Stanislaw Skrowacewski

Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise, Op. 22

Alexis Weissenberg (piano)

Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Stanislaw Skrowacewski

Mazurkas Nos. 1-51

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 56 in B flat major, K.IIa/3

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 59 in B flat major, K.IVb/1

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 58 in A flat major

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 55 in G major, K.IIa/2

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 54 in D major

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 64 in D major, K.IVa/7

Ronald Smith (piano)

Mazurka No. 61 in C major, K.IVb/3

Ronald Smith (piano)

Preludes (24), Op. 28

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Nocturnes Nos. 1-21 (complete)

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Polonaises (16)

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise, Op. 22

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Fantasia in F minor, Op. 49

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)

Variations brilliantes in B flat major on 'Je Vends des Scapulaires', Op. 12

Ronald Smith (piano)

Bolero, Op. 19

Ronald Smith (piano)

Tarantella in A flat major, Op. 43

Ronald Smith (piano)

Écossaises (3), Op. 72 No. 3

Ronald Smith (piano)

Waltzes Nos. 1-19

Augustin Anievas (piano)

Impromptus Nos. 1-4

Augustin Anievas (piano)

Études (12), Op. 10

Andrei Gavrilov (piano)

Études (12), Op. 25

Andrei Gavrilov (piano)

Trois Nouvelles Études

Danielle Laval (piano)

Cantabile in B Flat Major (Andantino)

Tzimon Barto (piano)

Contredanse in G flat major, KKAnh.Ia/4

Tzimon Barto (piano)

Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35 'Marche funèbre'

Cécile Ousset (piano)

Scherzi Nos. 1-4

Cécile Ousset (piano)

Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58

Cécile Ousset (piano)

Ballades Nos. 1-4

Cécile Ousset (piano)

Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 4

Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

Introduction & Variations ‘Der Schweizerbub’ KKIVa/4

Paolo Bordoni (piano)

Variations on a March from Bellini's I Puritani

Paolo Bordoni (piano)

Variations in A - Souvenír de paganini

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Rondo in C minor Op. 1

Danielle Laval (piano)

Rondo a la Mazurka, Op. 5

Danielle Laval (piano)

Rondo in E flat major, Op. 16

Danielle Laval (piano)

Rondo in C major for two pianos, Op. 73

Danielle Laval (piano), Teresa Llacuna (piano)

Allegro de Concert in A major Op. 46

Claudio Arrau (piano)

Pieóni i piosnki (17) (Seventeen Polish Songs), Op. 74

Eugenia Zareska (soprano), Giorgio Favaretto (piano)

Czary (Charms), KK.IVa/11

Lukas Jakobski (bass), Simon Lepper (piano)

Dumka (Reverie), KK.IVb/9

Lukas Jakobski (bass), Simon Lepper (piano)

Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65

Natalie Clein (cello), Charles Owen (piano)

Polonaise brillante Op. 3 for cello & piano

Natalie Clein (cello), Charles Owen (piano)

Grand Duo for Cello and Piano (on themes from Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable)

Andreas Brantelid (cello), Marianna Shirinyan (piano)

Piano Trio in G minor Op. 8

Vilde Frang (violin), Andreas Brantelid (cello), Marianna Shirinyan (piano)

Variations in D major for 2 pianos

Benjamin Grosvenor, Anna Tilbrook (piano)

Marche Funebre, Op. 72 No. 2

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Largo in E flat major, BI 109

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Allegretto in F sharp major

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Wiosna B117

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Waltz No. 18 in E flat major 'Sostenuto', Op. post., KKIVb:10, B 133

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Fugue in A minor

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Albumblatt in E major

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Two Bourrees B160B

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)

Galop in A flat major 'Marquis', WN 59

Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)


Chopin is universally acclaimed as one of the most original and innovative composers of music for the piano, especially in the romantic and lyrical field. Much of his music is deeply patriotic and infused with a love of his native Poland. 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Whilst it is well known that Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, born in 1810, left his native country of Poland for Paris at 21, never to return, it may be interesting to speculate how much he knew about the country of his immediate forefathers before he left. His grandfather, François, came from a peasant-family which had established itself in the Vosges growing vines. It was in Marainville that Chopin’s father, Nicolas, was born in 1771. It was by chance that the landowner was a Polish Count whose Polish steward befriended him and offered him the chance to improve his prospects in Poland. Thus it was, aged 16, he departed intending it only as a temporary visit but a letter home three years later shows that he was staying to avoid conscription in to the Revolutionary army. His life did certainly improve in Poland, first as a clerk and then in the Polish Guard where he rose to the rank of Captain. He became a children’s tutor for aristocratic families where his knowledge of French proved highly valuable. It was in the service of a Count on an estate near Warsaw that he met his wife and Ludwika was born in 1807 followed by Fryderyk three years later on 1st March. The family then moved to Warsaw where Nicolas became the teacher for French language and literature in the new high school. Two further daughters were born of which one died of consumption at the age of 14.

Although his father taught French he increased his reputation by adopting the language and culture of Poland and this dual national inheritance was crucial in forming the young Chopin’s views and future career. When the boy was only five the final defeat of Napoleon meant that Warsaw was to suffer under the oppressive rule of Russia. As with all prodigies Chopin took to music early, even crying with emotion when his mother played the piano or sang to him. At the age of six he was given a thorough basic knowledge of the music of Bach and the Viennese Classics. He seems to have taught himself how to play the piano and his teacher would write down his improvisations for him. His first to be published in 1817 was a polonaise in G minor (CD 8 [2]). It was dedicated to a Countess, the daughter of his godparents and similar such acts gave him access to the aristocratic salons where his father’s native tongue rather than Polish was spoken, being the language of culture. His music also impressed the military commander of the occupying forces, the Tsar’s brother, who arranged for a march of Chopin’s to be orchestrated and played by his band.

Besides his musical education his other studies took place at the high school where his father taught and he obtained his diploma in 1826.

Before that he had taken lessons with Jósef Elsner who, amongst other things, taught him how to write out his own compositions. His first work given an Opus number was the Rondo (CD 13 [8]) which was published in 1825. The Sonata Op. 4 (CD 13 [1]-[4]) followed in 1828 but Chopin’s real interest at this time were the dance forms of the mazurka and polonaise together with the Rondo. With Elsner he also completed his first Nocturne (later published as Op. 72 No. 1, CD 6 [12]). It was in this year that he had first experience of foreign travel when a zoology professor and friend of his father’s, took him to Berlin. On his return journey he was able to try out the first movement of his piano trio with Prince Antonin Radziwill, a cellist; he was to be the dedicatee of the work. He also completed the first two studies of Op. 10 (CD 10 [2&3]).

The Berlin experience clearly whetted Chopin’s appetite for more as Warsaw, under Russian rule, gave him little chance to hear the latest music although there were the occasional visits by Hummel and Paganini.

In July 1829, after completing his final exams at the Conservatory he set off with three friends for Vienna. He wanted to see his publisher, Tobias Haslinger, and it was he who was the mastermind in arranging two concerts for him. These were immensely successful particularly those pieces which allowed his improvisatory skills to shine. He returned home in August via Prague and Dresden.

Although his concerts at home were successful and he was now regarded as a burgeoning national figure he craved the international life which only a move to a major city would bring. In November the following year he returned to Vienna but the succeeding eight months were frustrating. His two concerts were not successful and no more works were published. It was natural for him, with his French ancestry and knowledge, to desire to go to Paris and he eventually arrived there in September 1831.

He quickly established himself and was immediately recognised as a pianist of quality by his fellows including Liszt and Mendelssohn; the famous remark “Hats off, a genius” by Schumann appeared in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung that December. The local Parisians were less forthcoming and his concerts were financially not successful; so he limited his performances and found that he was just as able to obtain both fame and fortune by not appearing before the public. He was supported by the aristocracy whose judgements were based more on musicality and not the mere technical wizardry of the spectacular virtuosos who used this for effect whereas the musical content was comparatively limited.

For the next few years he both toured – primarily Germany – and wrote; his compositions of this time included all the dance forms he made famous together with nocturnes, preludes and studies many of them being his popular compositions in those styles. In August 1835 he met his parents for the last time in Karlsbad; they returned to Poland whilst he went on to Dresden where he joined the family whose three sons had been at school with Chopin; one of the daughters, Maria, aged 16, took a fancy to Chopin and, even though there were nine years between them, he did not dismiss the idea of a relationship as he was struck by her youth and beauty. A present of his Waltz “L’Adieu” (Op, 69 No, 1, CD 9 [12]) was made to her on his departure for Leipzig where Mendelssohn introduced him to Schumann and Clara Wieck, whom he regarded as ‘the only woman in Germany who can play my music’. On visiting Heidelberg he became ill – indeed he struggled with ill health throughout his life – and rumours of his death appeared in newspapers in Warsaw. The following year he took up the pursuit of Maria and proposed marriage in September; although the parents liked him their opposition grew probably on the grounds of his health and the engagement was terminated in the summer of 1837.

The keyboard instrument that we now call the piano was undergoing a major part of its development and Chopin, through his friendship with a major manufacturer, Pleyel, was a pivotal influence in this; he and Pleyel came to London and visited John Broadwood, the manufacturer who had supplied Beethoven with a number of pianos.

In late 1836 Liszt introduced Chopin to the novelist Baroness Aurore Dudevant who was immediately attracted to him. Chopin, on the other hand, thought her, who had been brought up as a boy, too masculine in appearance and manner. She was six years older and already had had numerous lovers and one husband by whom she had had two children. She had left him five years earlier as she had inherited considerable wealth including an estate and chateau to which she now invited Chopin.

Gradually she wore down his reticence and finally seduced him, this was the start of the nine year affair with the Baroness whose pen name was George Sand. Her son, Maurice, suffered from rheumatic fever and had been recommended a warmer climate so for the winter of 1838 they went to Palma, Majorca. They had to leave when Chopin, who had been for some years suffering from latent tuberculosis, became seriously ill. Their relationship became more of a friendship with Sand acting like a mother.

In May 1839 he finally went to her estate and chateau and was entranced, it was the only country house in which he ever made a permanent home.

Several productive years followed but in 1846 Sand’s children and an adopted daughter showed open hostility towards Chopin and his friends and a family crisis developed; the relationship was finally terminated when Sand’s daughter, Solange, became pregnant, not by her then fiancé, whom Chopin liked, but by another man whom Sand preferred and who, in the end, married the girl.

The last years of Chopin’s life were marked by few compositions caused, no doubt, by the loss of the tranquil atmosphere of earlier years and his rapidly worsening health. There was a brief revival of his activity as a concert pianist but the Paris Revolution of February 1848 terminated that as well as his teaching engagements. He took up a long-standing invitation to visit Britain giving some concerts including one attended by Queen Victoria. Besides London he visited Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh before returning to France. Throughout his time in France he never contacted his father’s relations in the Vosges, not even now, when he needed assistance. He turned to his family by asking his sister, Ludwika, to come with her husband; she nursed him through his last two painful months, dying on 17 October 1849 aged only 39. After a funeral at the Madeleine, attended by nearly 3000 people, at which his own funeral march from the B flat minor sonata in an orchestral arrangement was played, he was buried at the cemetery of Père-Lachaise.

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