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Fauré: Après un rêve

Fauré: Après un rêve

A Fauré Recital, Vol. 1


Fauré:

Nocturne No. 4 in E flat major Op. 36

Nocturne No. 6 in D flat major, Op. 63

Barcarolle No. 5 in F sharp minor Op. 66

Barcarolle No. 6 in E flat major Op. 70

Barcarolle No. 7 in D minor Op. 90

Pavane, Op. 50

transcr. Louis Lortie

Préludes (9), Op. 103

Après un rêve, Op. 7 No. 1

arr. Percy Grainger

Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80 (suite)

'Fileuse’ (arr. Alfred Cortot)


Louis Lortie (piano)

This is the first volume in Louis Lortie’s new series devoted to the music of Gabriel Fauré.

As he states in the booklet notes, ‘this album purposely travels through Fauré's various creative periods, from easily appealing early pieces such as the Pavane and the mélodie “Après un rêve” through to the late and unjustly neglected Préludes, a masterpiece of condensed harmonic and melodic audacity.’

Released after four volumes in an ongoing Chopin series – ‘an exceptionally high order of playing’ (BBC Music) – this album, besides the masterful late Op. 103 Préludes, unsurprisingly features in Lortie’s words ‘the romantic, post-Chopinesque genres of the Nocturnes and Barcarolles along with pathbreaking small forms of neoclassical aesthetics such as the suite from Pelléas et Mélisande, here in a solo piano version highlighting the ambiguity of a canvas of pianistic and orchestral colourings that would be a major influence on Fauré’s successors’.

“You are left marvelling at the intricate beauty of Faure’s unique style - which is, hopefully, any great pianist’s ultimate aim.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 *****

“[Lortie] understands the type of discretion needed to make this music sing, he knows the veiled colours it requires – to which end he plays a Fazioli piano of immense tonal beauty – and he has the sort of technique to project Fauré’s signature elusiveness...Above all, Lortie identifies fully with Fauré’s chromaticism and understands how he uses it to create space and light.” classicalsource.com, October 2016

“This lovingly conceived programme begins with Lortie’s own transcription of the Pavane, capturing the delicate colours and wistful melancholy of the orchestral original…the seldom-encountered Nine Preludes rounding out the disc are of special interest…my favourite is No 3, where ambiguity gives way to ecstatic outpouring, here rendered with the utmost refinement of touch” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

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Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

and other works


Saint-Saëns:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

Truls Mørk (cello)

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 119

Truls Mørk (cello)

Le carnaval des animaux

Louis Lortie (piano), Hélène Mercier (piano) & Alasdair Malloy (glass harmonica)

Africa - Fantasie for piano & orchestra Op. 89

Louis Lortie (piano)

Wedding Cake - Valse-Caprice for piano & strings, Op. 76

Louis Lortie (piano)


The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Neeme Järvi present this unusual collection of popular works by Saint-Saëns, for orchestra and piano or cello.

Truls Mørk, this season Artist in Residence with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, is the soloist in the two contrasted cello concertos. His ‘seemingly flawless technical command’ is tested in the suave, expressive, famous No. 1 as well as in the many taxing solo passages, huge leaps, and double-stopping flourishes of No. 2.

The indefatigable duo Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier join in the posthumously published Carnival of the Animals, after a highly successful recording of Concertos by Poulenc with Edward Gardner, Disc of the Week in The Sunday Times. They offer the original version, which features a glass harmonica (normally substituted by a glockenspiel). Louis Lortie is also the soloist in the entertaining fantasia Africa, which incorporates folk tunes of the different countries in which it was composed and which is brought off with consummate zest, as well as in the most characteristic and probably challenging of the composer’s keyboard pieces, the Caprice-Valse Wedding-cake, written for the second wedding of the composer’s virtuosic pianist friend Caroline Montigny-Rémaury.

“This is one of those recordings where it seems invidious to look for faults and which just encourages you to sit back, relax, listen and wallow. Mørk brings his characteristic incisiveness and mountain-spring tone to the concertos...The Grande fantaisie zoologique receives one of its most successful performances on disc (sans narrator) with just the right balance of instrumental virtuosity, sensitive musicianship and, where the opportunity presents itself, fun.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2016

“[Mørk's] noble command is ideal in the darkly blazing, virtuosic second concerto. One of our great lyric instrumentalists, he gives a deeply-felt, but never over-dramatised performance, a piercing tenderness underlying what can sound sentimental in the hands of a lesser artist. Bergen's beautifully-tuned winds create subtle intimacy in the idyllic Andante” BBC Music Magazine, March 2016 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2016

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Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4 & Concert Overture

Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4 & Concert Overture


Szymanowski:

Concert Overture, Op.12

Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19

Symphony No. 4, Op. 60 (Sinfonia Concertante)

Louis Lortie (piano)


This recording of orchestral works by Karol Szymanowski form part of the Polish Music series on Chandos, and is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner. These performers have impressed in their Lutosławski survey, which is part of the same series; in a review of volume 1, Gramophone described them as a veritable ‘dream team’.

Symphony No. 2 by Szymanowski is a work of great power and ingenuity, with many passionate and varied contrasts in its use of solo instruments. Composed in 1909 – 10, it is widely considered the greatest orchestral work of the composer’s early period, not to mention one of the most important Polish symphonic compositions to date. Szymanowski himself thought very highly of it, and in August 1911 wrote in a letter to his fellow Polish composer Zdzisław Jachimecki: ‘How happy I am that this Symphony impressed you as I had wanted. I will frankly admit that I feel somewhat proud about its value. In some miraculous way I have managed during my work on it to resist all those garish phantoms which seduce “young and inexperienced” artists and to produce pure and uncompromising beauty in the way I personally understand it.’

The internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie joins the orchestra and conductor in Symphony No. 4 of 1932, which the composer subtitled ‘Symphonie concertante’ in recognition of the near-soloistic role played by the pianist. Whereas Szymanowski’s early and middle works clearly reflect Wagner, Strauss, and Scriabin, this work is strongly influenced by Prokofiev, particularly in the finale, an agitated and daring movement reminiscent of the Russian composer’s Piano Concerto No. 3, composed about a decade earlier.

Written in 1904 – 05 in a style recalling Wagner and Strauss, the Concert Overture is characterised by enormous expressiveness and gusto in the way it handles the expanding themes. Szymanowski inscribed the original score with part of the poem Witeź Włast by his friend Tadeusz Miciński: ‘I will not play you sad songs, O Shades! but will give you a triumph proud and fierce…’. This vivid imagery is perfectly in keeping with the music’s exuberant and vivacious character.

“[Gardner's] gloriously broad and sweeping account of a work that reflects Szymanowski's seemingly boundless admiration for Richard Strauss's symphonic poems sets the tone for a disc that emphasises the composer's late romantic affiliations rather than his modernist ones, especially with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on opulent form” The Guardian, 24th January 2013 ****

“Gardner makes a stronger case for the Polish composer, clarifying textures and tautening musical lines” Financial Times, 26th January 2013

“These performances prove ideal, finding luminosity at the opening, and delivering a taut, energetic fugal finale...In the oberek dance rhythms of the orgiastic finale, Gardner shows how he has become one of the finest non-Polish interpreters of Szymanowski.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2013 *****

“The whole Szymanowski landscape is here...though a single sitting might prove indigestible and is probably not advised, the changing face and manner of this most fascinating and accomplished of composers is richly chronicled here in characterically impressive Chandos sound.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Orchestral Finalist

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Liszt: The Complete Années de Pèlerinage

Liszt: The Complete Années de Pèlerinage


Liszt:

Années de pèlerinage, 1ère année, Suisse (9 pieces), S. 160

Années de pèlerinage, 2ème année, Italie (7 pieces), S. 161

Années de pèlerinage, 3ème année (7 pieces), S. 163

Venezia e Napoli (3 pieces), S. 162


Louis Lortie (piano)

The virtuoso pianist and exclusive Chandos artist Louis Lortie here performs all three books, or ‘Years’, of Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), a work rarely recorded in its entirety. Lortie has made more than thirty recordings for Chandos, covering a repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky. His recording of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Variations won an Edison Award; his disc of works by Schumann and Brahms was judged one of the best CDs of the year by BBC Music, and his interpretations of Liszt’s complete works for piano and orchestra and of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas were both selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone.

Liszt was an artist by nature. He seemed to feel and be affected by external influences far more deeply than most, and he was a master at translating these feelings into music. The first Year of the Années de Pèlerinage, a reworking of pieces from his earlier Album d’un Voyageur, was inspired by his travels in Switzerland as a young man. In this work, the music does not depict or describe particular scenes or landscapes, rather it attempts to communicate the feeling that Liszt experienced when he saw them, his ‘strongest sensations and most lively impressions’.

‘Chapelle de Guillaume Tell’, for example, depicts a fourteenth-century Swiss hero through a broad and stately theme that quotes a Swiss Alpine horn melody with trumpet calls, echoes, and tremolos. ‘Au lac de Wallenstadt’ depicts the gently rising and retreating waves of the lake, over which Liszt places a theme of beautiful simplicity.

The second Year was inspired by the art and literature that Liszt encountered on his travels in Italy. ‘Sposalizio’ was inspired by Raphael’s painting The Marriage of the Virgin in the Brera in Milan, and ‘Il Penseroso’ by Michelangelo’s statue on the tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence.

The third and last Year of the Années de Pèlerinage was written much later, when Liszt was in his sixties, and at a time when both the man and the style of his music had undergone a vast change. The pieces show far more simplicity in the treatment of the musical components and often convey a mood of despair and stark austerity.

From the outset, Liszt knew that his Années de Pèlerinage was unlikely to appeal to the masses. In his own words, the work was ‘written for the few rather than the many – not ambitious of success, but of the approval of that minority which conceives art as having other uses than the beguiling of idle hours, and asks more from it than the futile distraction of a passing entertainment’.

“Complete - and completely successful - traversals of Années de pèlerinage are relatively thin on the ground, This is one of them. Usually one or two pieces fall by the wayside but Lortie maintains a consistent level of excellence in performances that transcend the sterile surrounds of the studio.” Classic FM Magazine, May 2011 *****

“Technically he is, as one might expect, immaculate. This is, in many respects, no-frills Liszt, very masculine and carefully steering clear of self-conscious sentiment or souped-up passion...This is not to say, however, that Lortie misses Liszt's poetry. Les Cloches de Genève, for instance, is about as exquisite as it gets, and he's also notably strong when it comes to dealing with the sensuousness that informs Liszt's religious sensibilities.” The Guardian, 7th April 2011 ****

“His identification with Liszt's poetic message lends every bar an unimpeachable emotional authenticity and, conceptually speaking, these are strikingly original interpretations, without a trace of received wisdom. In a word, this fresh and vital Années de Pèlerinage is quite unlike any other.” International Record Review, April 2011

“Louis Lortie's credentials for taking on this greatest of musical pilgrimages are self-evident from the start. The opening 'Chapelle de Guillaume Tell', from the Switzerland-inspired first book, is delivered with epic sweep and grandeur, wonderfully shimmering tremolos, and a huge tonal range.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2011 ****

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Rachmaninoff: Piano Duets

Rachmaninoff: Piano Duets


Rachmaninov:

Suite No. 1 (Fantaisie-tableaux), Op. 5

Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17

Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

arr. for two pianos


Louis Lortie (piano), Hélène Mercier (piano)

After more than twenty years since their last recording of piano duets on Chandos, Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier here come together again to perform works by Rachmaninoff.

The Symphonic Dances was the last work to which Rachmaninoff gave an opus number, and he arranged it himself for two pianos. He was separated from his native Russia, where the Soviets had banned his music. In this work he thinks beyond himself as a Russian and, as in the Suite, Op. 17, into the world to come. In both works, amidst a gallery of musical references and quotations, he juxtaposes passages of his own music (from the First and Third Symphonies, The Bells, the Vespers, etc.) with music by composers he particularly admired (such as Richard Strauss, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Schubert). The combination of material may be seen as his exhibition of the nineteenth-century musical world.

The album also features the Fantaisie (or Suite) for two pianos, Op. 5, in which poetic fragments in the score reveals that each movement for Rachmaninoff carried a world of secreted meaning.

“[Mercier] has a chameleon-like ability to blend, spar or float in and out of focus as the need arises…[their choice of instruments] allow one to hear the inner workings of these busy scores in crisp detail and bright, resonant colours” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

“Both pianists are as one, thanks to the years of performing together, which is evident in their fine musical understanding and precise synchronised attack” Pianist Magazine, June 2016 ****

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Poulenc: Piano Concertos & Aubade

Poulenc: Piano Concertos & Aubade


Poulenc:

Piano Concerto

BBC Philharmonic, Edward Gardner

Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos & Orchestra

with Hélène Mercier (piano)

BBC Philharmonic, Edward Gardner

Aubade

BBC Philharmonic, Edward Gardner

Sonata for Piano Four Hands (à mademoiselle Simone Tilliard)

with Hélène Mercier (piano)

Elégie for two pianos, FP175

with Hélène Mercier (piano)

L'Embarquement pour Cythère, for 2 pianos

with Hélène Mercier (piano)


Louis Lortie (piano)

After a successful cycle of Chopin works for solo piano, exclusive Chandos artist Louis Lortie plays here works by Poulenc with his duet partner Hélène Mercier. In Aubade and the two concertos they are joined by Edward Gardner and the BBC Philharmonic.

The French-Canadian pianists draw a persuasive portrait of the melancholic Parisian that Poulenc was: playful and depressed, like his tutor, Erik Satie. There is always a sense of palpable anxiety in these pieces, be it the sarcastic joie de vivre of the 'choreographic concerto' Aubade or the ironic melancholy of the explosive Concerto for Two Pianos – Mozartean and Stravinskyan at the same time. Further examples are the contrasting pair of works for two pianos, in which the evocation of the sound of accordion and smell of fried potatoes in L'Embarquement pour Cythère complement the Élégie which, as Poulenc indicated, should be played with 'a cigar in your mouth and a glass of cognac on the piano'.

Similarly, the dazzling and dissonant Sonata for Piano Duet alternates between passages of charme and others that are féroce and strident. 'Inventing his own folk tunes', as Ravel noted, Poulenc took a decisive step in his musical emancipation with this very 'dissident' work.

Louis Lortie also plays the Piano Concerto, in which the traditional concerto virtues are more obvious: memorable tunes, sparkling orchestration, and a wide range of textures in the piano part.

“[Lortie and Mercier] perform [the Poulenc] with great panache, also capturing the work's more reflective qualities, with Edward Gardner and the BBC Philharmonic providing by turns zestful and sensitive accompaniment” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015 ****

“the distinct attraction of this performance by Lortie with the BBC Philharmonic under Edward Gardner is the way in which orchestral colour, as well as piano texture, is so clearly defined and zestfully articulated…Lortie is joined by Helene Mercier for cracking performances of the Two-Piano Concerto and the Sonata for four hands, their distinctive acerbities given whiplash emphasis by both pianists…and yet with their more lyrical leanings tenderly voiced.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2015

“Lortie and Mercier never leave one in doubt of their delight in, or idiomatic understanding of, Poulenc’s music; their rapport is complete” Sunday Times, 27th September 2015

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Louis Lortie plays Chopin Volume 4

Louis Lortie plays Chopin Volume 4


Chopin:

Nocturne No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1

Nocturne No. 9 in B major, Op. 32 No. 1

Nocturne No. 11 in G minor, Op. 37 No. 1

Nocturne No. 12 in G major, Op. 37 No. 2

Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor, Op. post.

Waltz No. 11 in G flat major, Op. 70 No. 1

Waltz No. 12 in F minor, Op. 70 No. 2

Waltz No. 13 in D flat major, Op. 70 No. 3

Waltz No. 9 in A flat major, Op. 69 No. 1 'Farewell Waltz'

Waltz No. 10 in B minor, Op. 69 No. 2

Waltz No. 6 in D flat major, Op. 64 No. 1 'Minute Waltz'

Waltz No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 64 No. 2

Waltz No. 8 in A flat major, Op. 64 No. 3

Waltz No. 5 in A flat major, Op. 42

Waltz No. 2 in A flat major 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 34 No. 1

Waltz No. 3 in A minor 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 34 No. 2

Waltz No. 4 in F major 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 34 No. 3

Waltz No. 1 in E flat major 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 18

Waltz No. 16 in A flat major, Op. post., KKIVa:13, B 21

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

Waltz No. 17 in E flat major, Op. post., KKIVa:14, B 46

Waltz No. 15 in E major, Op. post., KKIVa:12, B 44

Waltz No. 14 in E minor, Op. post., KKIVa:15, B 56

Waltz No. 19 in A minor, Op. post., KKIVb:11, B 150


Louis Lortie (piano)

This is the fourth volume of Louis Lortie’s highly successful series devoted to Chopin. The recording perfectly illustrates how Chopin elevated the waltz to a genre of musical art, from danses de salon – evocative of a genial milieu – to ‘works’ with proper opus numbers. Growing up in the 1820s, the composer at first viewed the waltz purely pragmatically, as a means to a social end in the dance salon. But after spending time in Vienna and Paris in the 1830s he decided that a waltz might be worthy of the deeper appreciation accorded a ‘work’.

From moods of liveliness, in introductory calls to the dance, to more poetical or sentimental sections, the affective achievement in these works is great, whether the mood captured is plaintive (the B minor, A flat major, or F minor ones), evocative of the dance salon (the E major), lilting (the D flat major), reminiscent of a Ländler (the A flat major, the only waltz Chopin composed in 3 / 8 meter), dramatic (the E minor), or brilliant (the G flat major).

The nocturnes also trace their origins to the salon. The genre derives from a type of vocal music, akin to the solo romance, but highly popular among amateurs as an opportunity for singing duets.

With this series, Louis Lortie has made his reputation as a ‘model Chopinist’ (BBC Music).

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Louis Lortie plays Chopin Volume 3

Louis Lortie plays Chopin Volume 3


Chopin:

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

Nocturne No. 3 in B major, Op. 9 No. 3

Nocturne No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1

Impromptus Nos. 1-4

Nocturne No. 8 in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2

Nocturne No. 14 in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2

Nocturne No. 10 in A flat major, Op. 32 No. 2


Louis Lortie (piano)

Louis Lortie here gives us the third volume in his ongoing Chopin project. Throughout the series his guiding principle has been to emulate the recital practice of the great romantic pianists, who might play a short improvisation before a major work in order to set the audience in the right frame of mind.

On this disc Lortie plays the four Impromptus and the Piano Sonata in B minor, introducing each with a Chopin Nocturne (typically of an improvisatory character) in the same or a related key.

Of all the Impromptus, the first and most famous was actually withdrawn from the public during Chopin’s lifetime. Published posthumously as Fantaisie-Impromptu, it set the mould for the unpretentious pieces that followed, all striving more toward casual entertainment than high artistic expression. The third and last of Chopin’s Piano Sonatas, Op. 58 in B minor was composed in 1845. While its four-movement design reflects a traditional approach, the appearance of imitative counterpoint, chromatic harmonies, and heightened rhythmic tension mark it as an inspired masterwork of Chopin’s late creative period.

Lortie’s previous two volumes have received extremely high praise, the magazine Pianist claiming of Vol. 2 that ‘his selected nocturnes are probably not bettered by any living pianist’.

“Lortie's Chopin playing has a wonderful, penetrating directness about it; there's not a trace of dreamy indulgence in any of the nocturnes, though all their decorative tracery shines out with a sharp-cut brilliance, and the impromptus dance and divert without a trace of self-consciousness” The Guardian, 25th April 2014 ****

“Textures are chaste, lean, and translucent. Pedalling is employed as a colour device, not as an aid to legato. Harmonic structure is unambiguous, delineating the overall architecture with unparalled clarity...Rhetoric throughout is personal, human, real, and the Sonata's 25-plus minutes will have passed almost before you can believe they have begun.” International Record Review, May 2014

“The first prerequisite of great Chopin playing is arguably beauty of tone, as well as refinement and variety...Lortie is a model Chopinist: eloquent but never sentimental, elegant without ever sounding effete, dramatic but never exaggerated, harmonically luminous, structurally immaculate - and surprising.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - July 2014

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Liszt at the Opera

Liszt at the Opera


Liszt:

Tannhaüser Overture

O du, mein holder Abendstern - Rezitativ und Romanze aus Tannhäuser S444

Spinnerlied aus Der fliegende Holländer S440

Valse De L'opera Faust S407

Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto, S.434 after Verdi's opera

Réminiscences de "Don Juan" (after Mozart), S. 418

Wagner:

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude & Liebestod

Transcribed by Louis Lortie


Louis Lortie (piano)

In this new release, the exclusive Chandos artist and award-winning pianist Louis Lortie continues his exploration of piano works by Franz Liszt. His previous Liszt releases have been critically acclaimed, Gramophone describing his performance of the complete Années de Pèlerinage as ‘spellbinding’. Here Lortie turns his hand to the composer’s opera transcriptions and paraphrases, works that revolutionised composition for the piano with their unheralded technical innovation. The original works by Liszt based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Gounod’s Faust not only demonstrate the dazzling technical possibilities of the piano but reveal the unique and fascinating musical imagination with which Liszt transformed some of the best-known music in the operatic repertoire. Completing the disc are several more or less straightforward transcriptions based on operas by Richard Wagner who, despite a rocky start to their relationship, forged a close musical bond with Liszt. Among them is the popular transcription of the ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan und Isolde. Liszt never completed a transcription of its natural musical companion, the Prelude to the opera, so here Louis Lortie has recorded his own arrangement of it.

“A dollop of old-fashioned showmanship is required to make these concoctions as alluring as the originals and Louis Lortie has it in spades.” Financial Times, 19th October 2013

“Lortie's technique is not in question...But this music requires more than dedicated technique. When Liszt is in glitter mode...Lortie's sparkling and swarthy playing is impressively glamorous. The problems come when a greater breadth and nobility is required...But then, Wagner's Liebestod is conveyed with an intensity missing elsewhere.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ***

“as so often with Lortie, virtuosity is never an end in itself and he is often at his most subtly expressive when Liszt is at his most introverted and restrained. Had Liszt attempted a transcription of the Tristan Prelude, it would have been more ornate than Lortie's, but the latter is a beautiful piece of writing, played with intense sensuality.” The Guardian, 21st November 2013 ****

“some of the most dazzling and complex piano works of the 19th century. Louis Lortie, a fantastic Lisztian, performs them with confidence and clarity.” New York Times, 15th January 2014

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Vincent d’Indy - Orchestral Works Volume 5

Vincent d’Indy - Orchestral Works Volume 5


Indy:

Symphonie sur un chant montagnard, Op. 25

Louis Lortie (piano)

Saugefleurie, Op. 21

Médée, Op. 47

Fervaal, Op. 40: Prelude to Act 1


This is Volume 5 in our series dedicated to the orchestral works of Vincent d’Indy, nicknamed ‘The Samson of Music’ by Fauré, for his work as a composer, conductor, and teacher. His style was essentially eclectic, strongly influenced by Beethoven and Wagner, into which he frequently incorporated folk melodies.

Based on a folk tune from the Tourtous, the Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français is today one of the best-loved works by d’Indy. This highly atmospheric work is scored for piano and orchestra; however, far from engaging in conflict with the orchestra, the soloist here operates on equal terms. The solo part is performed by the internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie.

The symphonic poem Saugefleurie tells the story of the tragic love between Saugefleurie, a lonely yet charming little fairy, and the King’s son, based on a poem from the Contes de fees by Robert de Bonnières, a friend of the composer’s. The Wagnerian influence is apparent throughout; however, in terms of orchestration and sonority this work remains characteristically French.

Among the now forgotten works of the French poet, novelist, and dramatist Catulle Mendès is the play Medée, based on the Greek myth of Medea, who murdered her two sons in revenge for her rejection by her lover Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. D’Indy wrote incidental music to the play in 1898, and later preserved it in the form of an orchestral suite in five movements, recorded here.

Also on the theme of doomed love is d’Indy’s first opera, Fervaal, a work of Wagnerian scale and proportions, and clearly displaying the influence of Parsifal in the complex network of leitmotivs. At the same time, in its historical setting at the time of the Saracen invasion, and in its musical evocation of local colour, it reflects the earlier Parisian Grand Opéra of Meyerbeer and Halévy.

This recording is the first ever made at Harpa, the new concert hall in Reykjavik, which opened its doors to the public in May 2011, and was subsequently named by Gramophone one of the greatest concert halls of the new millennium.

“the mixture of post-Wagnerian chromaticism and refined orchestral sensuousness is typical of a style that left an indelible impression on French music for decades. The performances, from the Iceland Symphony under Rumon Gamba, are faultless. Louis Lortie is the restrained yet dexterous soloist in the Symphonie.” The Guardian, 11th April 2013 ****

“Lortie is so sensitively attuned to a piano part whose sheer dexterity is partly offset only by its frequent self-effacement...Gamba yields very little to Andre Cluytens in terms of his identity with a work that is well deserving of revival.” International Record Review, May 2013

“d'Indy is his own man, conjuring up fragrant atmosphere from his mountain theme and generating a good deal of healthy vigour in the finale. All this is potently communicated by the orchestral playing and by Louis Lortie's scintillating fluency in the piano obbligato.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2013

“For me, the palm goes to the delightful and generally ignored Saugefleurie, where duty bows before inspiration. Throughout, the playing is warm and unfussy.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 ****

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Chandos d’Indy Orchestral Works - CHAN10760

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