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Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)

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Godowsky: 53 Piano Studies

Godowsky: 53 Piano Studies


“One of the most breathtaking feats of virtuosity ever accomplished by any pianist, let alone with such poetry and beauty.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2007

“Godowsky's 53 studies on Chopin's 27 studies are the ne plus ultra of Romantic intricacy.
Godowsky's wily disclaimer that, far from wanting to 'improve' on Chopin's matchless originals, he merely wished to extend the parameters of technique, hardly convinces purists, who dismiss his magnum opus as an outrageous gilding of the lily, an unforgivable powdering and rouging of Chopin's genius. For others, Godowsky's ingenuity, his ear-tickling wit and elegance, create edifices, indeed 'miracles of rare device'. But if heated debate still rages around the music, the quality of Hamelin's recording is entirely uncontroversial. Rarely can such a gargantuan task have been accomplished with such strength, grace and agility, with an ease bordering on nonchalance. His virtuosity is pre-eminent because it's so musical, and it's impossible to think of another living pianist who could have carried off this enterprise with comparable success. In lesser hands these Etudes can seem overweight; with Hamelin, even the densest, seemingly impenetrable textures are kept as light as air and everything is mobile, fluent and adroit. And so, to evoke Schumann, it's 'hats off, gentlemen' to this handsomely presented and finely recorded set. A truly phenomenal achievement.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2000

Winner - Instrumental

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Godowsky - Piano Music

Godowsky - Piano Music


Godowsky:

Passacaglia

44 variations, cadenza and fugue on the opening of Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony, 1927

Das Wandern

Gute Nacht

Ungeduld

from Twelve Schubert Songs freely transcribed for the piano, 1926

Weber Invitation to the Dance Op. 65

contrapuntal arrangement, c1905

Ballet Music from 'Rosamunde'

(Schubert) 1922

Moment Musical in F minor

(Schubert, op 94 no 3) 1922

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Johann Strauss: No. 1, Künstlerleben

Triakontameron No. 11 'Alt Wien'

1919


Rian de Waal (piano)

‘A musical as well as a technical revelation … De Waal’s virtuosity is awe-inspiring, and he’s complemented throughout by a beautifully natural and wide-ranging recording’ (Gramophone)

“This disc is amazing, even hilarious, but should probably be taken in two or three separate doses. Godowsky's inventiveness reaches its apogee in the vast Passacaglia on the opening of Schubert's Unfinished, but it's all wild stuff, to which Rian de Waal does ample justice.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****

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Godowsky - Sonata and Passacaglia

Godowsky - Sonata and Passacaglia


Godowsky:

Piano Sonata in E minor

Passacaglia


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Godowsky - Strauss transcriptions and other waltzes

Godowsky - Strauss transcriptions and other waltzes


Godowsky:

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Johann Strauss: No. 1, Künstlerleben

Walzermasken No. 2 'Pastell'

Walzermasken No. 14 'Französisch'

Walzermasken No. 22 'Wienerisch'

Walzermasken No. 24 'Portrait Joh. Str.'

Triakontameron No. 4 'Rendezvous'

Triakontameron No. 11 'Alt Wien'

Triakontameron No. 13 'Terpsichorean Vindobona'

Triakontameron No. 21 'The Salon'

Triakontameron No. 25 'Memories'

The Last Waltz

Oscar Straus. Idealized version by Leopold Godowsky

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Johann Strauss: No. 2, Die Fledermaus

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Johann Strauss: No. 3, Wein, Weib und Gesang


Marc-André Hamelin’s programme is mostly devoted to Godowsky’s works based on themes by—or directly inspired by—Johann Strauss II. It is not intended to be a comprehensive survey but is, nevertheless, fully representative of Godowsky’s finest reflections on the Waltz King. In the three great Strauss transcriptions, Godowsky elevated the art of the piano paraphrase to a higher musical and pianistic plane; however their extreme technical difficulty remains a striking feature and places them out of the reach of ordinary pianists. And Marc-André Hamelin is, of course, no ordinary pianist—in fact his playing on a recent disc (see below) was compared to that of Alkan and Liszt.

Triakontameron and Walzermasken are rarely performed examples of Godowsky’s original work, and continue the composer’s love-affair with the waltz—they are written entirely in 3/4 time. The last work on this dazzling disc is an oddity—indeed, a rarity. Sometime prior to 1925, Godowsky made a piano roll of his arrangement of The Last Waltz by Oscar Straus (1870–1954), the Vienna-born composer. The eponymous Waltz is heard throughout the 1920 operetta. The music of Godowsky’s transcription was never published for some unknown reason—it is a uniquely appealing arrangement. In the early 1970s, Gilles Hamelin, the pianophile father of Marc-André, notated, arranged and edited The Last Waltz from Godowsky’s piano roll, which was then published in 1975. Shortly afterwards, a copy of the negative of Godowsky’s manuscript was sent to Gilles Hamelin. It was all but illegible, so Hamelin Snr. Made a fair copy in his own hand: in almost every respect it tallied with the version he had transcribed from the piano roll.

“There's no need for analogies about a surfeit of Viennese cream-cakes with this excellent CD: the musical inventions is so brilliant and varied, and the performance so coruscating, that one's attention is firmly held.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2008 *****

“How many fingers does Hamelin have? Thirty would be a conservative estimate, though the magic of his piano playing lies in his subtlety and flow, never in any shallow brilliance. Manner matches matter perfectly in this lilting CD of three “symphonic metamorphoses” of Johann Strauss’s waltzes by the piano virtuoso Leopold Godowsky. They sound symphonic too, deftly worked, complex in structure and emotion. The succulent recording is the cherry on the cake.” The Times, 15th August 2008 ****

“Whatever you think of the music, Hamelin's playing is infinitely seductive and flawlessly judged in its mixture of panache, grace and charm.” The Guardian, 15th August 2008 ***

“Countless inner voices and contrapuntal rejoinders abound in these works, and Hamelin makes them audible and clear… All told, a stellar achievement…” Gramophone Magazine, September 2008

“[The symphonic metamorphoses] are more than just for show, and Hamelin brings out their poetic intent as much as their panache and vivid energy.” The Telegraph, 23rd August 2008

“Here's another release that testifies to Marc- André Hamelin's cultured musicianship, extraordinary keyboard proficiency and unflappable tonal control. His key assets include the most together, impeccably voiced chords in the business, plus octaves, trills and rapid leaps that remain effortlessly even and focused, regardless of tempo.
All of this comes into delightful play over the course of the three big Strauss Symphonic Metamorphoses.
Countless inner voices and contrapuntal rejoinders abound in these works, and Hamelin makes them audible and clear without resorting to the pianistic equivalent of red-ink underlining or pop-up windows. Furthermore, Hamelin is a seasoned and subtle orchestrator at the piano; notice how he achieves such eloquent shading of simultaneous legato and detached phrases with no more help from the sustain pedal than is necessary.
One could argue that Godowsky's pinpoint tempo modifications throughout Wein, Weibund Gesang might benefit from stronger characterisation, in the manner of Shura Cherkassky's admittedly more capricious Decca recording, although Hamelin eschews the older pianist's cuts; in fact, Hamelin plays all three Metamorphoses complete, as written. As it happens, the less demanding shorter selections from Walzermasken, Triakontameron and The Last Waltz inspire some of Hamelin's most poetic, lyrically inspired playing on disc.
All told, a stellar achievement, graced by Hyperion's close-up yet ample engineering, plus Godowsky biographer Jeremy Nicholas's thoroughly informative and penetrating annotations.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Presto Disc of the Week

28th July 2008

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2008

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Hyperion - CDA67626

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Hommage à Chopin

Hommage à Chopin


Balakirev:

Impromptu on the themes of two Preludes by Chopin

Bendel:

Hommage à Chopin, Op. 111, No. 1

Berkeley, L:

Three Mazurkas, Op. 32 No. 1

Busoni:

10 Variations on a Prelude of Chopin

Godard, B:

No. 2: Hommage à Chopin from Lanterne magique, Op. 66

Godowsky:

Walzermasken No. 7 'Profil (Chopin)'

Grieg:

No 5: Studie 'Hommage à Chopin' from Moods, Op. 73

Honegger:

Souvenir de Chopin

Leschetitzky:

No. 9: Hommage à Chopin from Contes de jeunesse, Op. 46

Mompou:

Variations sur un theme de Chopin

Nápravník:

Notturno 'La réminiscence de Chopin;, Op. 48 No. 1

Tchaikovsky:

Un poco di Chopin (No. 15 from Morceaux, Op. 72)

Villa-Lobos:

Hommage a Chopin


2010 sees the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, and among the many celebratory recordings, this disc will stand out as an historic record of the composer’s extraordinary influence and legacy.

Chopin’s unique style of piano writing was to utterly transform the way in which composers wrote for and thought about the instrument. Few escaped some aspect of that legacy until the early years of the twentieth century; and few pianists have not had Chopin’s music in their concert repertoire. Small wonder that so many composers and pianistcomposers— major and minor—have felt moved to pay their respects to a musician for whom there is almost universal approbation. A fascinating selection of hommages are represented here.

Jonathan Plowright has recently been described as ‘one of the finest living pianists; the possessor of qualities that should no longer remain a secret’ (Gramophone). His formidable technique and musical integrity combine in a disc which is a must for any pianophile.

“This is an imaginative way of marking Chopin’s bicentenary without adding to the already amply stocked CD catalogue of his own works. Jonathan Plowright provides a fascinating conspectus of how Chopin’s example has sparked ideas in others...This disc is a delight.” The Telegraph, 18th February 2010 *****

“Plowright’s dazzling playing can’t be faulted.” Sunday Times, 21st February 2010 ***

“Most of these pieces are light, even frothy morceaux, and Plowright does not overstate the musical case for them beyond their obvious delights of refinement and dexterity. But he balances them with two superb sets of variations on Chopin themes: Busoni's late Ten Variations on the C minor Prelude and Frederico Mompou's substantial work on another Prelude, Op. 28 No. 7. Mompou's 11th variation is the sublimest track on the disc. ...in places like these that Plowright shows his real qualities as a virtuoso, especially his clarity of texture and instinct for phrasing.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2010 *****

“on this magnificent and richly enterprising disc you can hear Chopin's idiom refracted, as it were, through the prism of several richly diverse personalities...All of these multifaceted offerings...show Jonathan Plowright as beguiling in his intimacy as he is magisterial in virtuosity.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2010

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Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope


Behr:

Lachtäuben

(trans. Sergei Rachmaninov)

Bentz Woods:

Valse Phantastique

Blanchet:

Au jardin du vieux sérail (Andrianople) Op. 18 No. 3

Blumenfeld:

Etude for the left hand, Op. 36

Casella:

Deux Contrastes, Op. 21

Glazunov:

Petit Adagio (extrait des ‘Saisons')

(trans. Marc-André Hamelin)

Godowsky:

Triakontameron No. 11 'Alt Wien'

Hamelin:

Étude No. 3 in B minor 'after Paganini-Liszt'

Étude No. 6 in D minor 'Esercizio per pianoforte, Omaggio a Domenico Scarlatti'

Hofmann, J:

Nocturne (‘Complaint')

Kaleidoscope, Op. 40 No. 4

Kapustin:

Toccatina Op. 36

Lourié:

Gigue

Massenet:

Valse folle

Michałowski:

Etude d'après l'Impromptu en la bémol majeur de Fr. Chopin, Op. 29

Moszkowski:

Etude in A flat minor, Op. 72 No. 13

Offenbach:

Concert Paraphrase of ‘The Song of the Soldiers of the Sea'

(trans. Jakob Gimpel)

Poulenc:

Intermezzo in A flat major, FP118

Vallier:

Toccatina


Marc Andre Hamelin (piano)

“A collection of miniature piano rarities and transcriptions put together to fascinating effect.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2007

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Hyperion Instrumental Selections - CDA67275

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Smörgasbord

Smörgasbord


Berkeley, L:

Andantino for Cello and Piano, Op. 21, No. 2a

Fauré:

Papillon, Op. 77

Godowsky:

Larghetto Lamentoso (from Twelve Impressions)

Grainger:

The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol

Hägg, J A:

Andante

Albumblatt

Halffter, E:

Habanera

(arr Maurice Gendron)

Jongen:

Valse, Op. 35

Habanera, Op. 86

Korngold:

Mummenschantz (Hornpipe) (from Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11)

Romance Impromptu in E flat major, Op. post.

Kreisler:

Liebesleid

(arr Rachmaninov/Lidström)

Lidström:

The Sea of Flowers is Rising Higher (Elegy for solo cello)

Martinu:

Arabesque No. 1 (from Sept Arabesques)

Moeran:

Prelude

Montsalvatge:

Canción negra No. 5, Canto negro

(arr Mats Lidström)

Rameau:

Air vif: ‘Torture d'Alphise' (from Les Boréades, Act 4)

(arr Mats Lidström)

Scriabin:

Poème in F sharp major, Op. 32 No. 1

(arr Mats Lidström)

Romance in A minor

Sibelius:

Rondino (from Five Pieces, Op. 81)

Berceuse (No 6 of Six Pieces, Op. 79)

Stenhammar:

Adagio, Op. 20 No. 5

(arr Mats Lidström)

Tille:

Courante (from Le Tombeau de Rameau)

Tortelier:

Pishnetto (Recital Etude No. 5)


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Hyperion Instrumental Selections - CDA67184

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Stephen Hough's New Piano Album

Stephen Hough's New Piano Album


Chaminade:

Pierrette - Air de ballet, Op. 41

Autrefois, Op. 87 No. 4

Godowsky:

Triakontameron No. 11 'Alt Wien'

Hough:

Musical Jewellery Box

Étude de Concert

Kalman:

Was weiss ein nie geküsster Rosenmund

(arr. Hough)

Liszt:

Soirées de Vienne: valse-caprice No. 6 (after Schubert), D427 No. 6

Moszkowski:

Étincelles, Op. 36 No. 6

Paderewski:

Mélodie in G flat major, Op. 16 No. 2

Rachmaninov:

Humoresque in G major, Op. 10 No. 5

Melodie in E Major, Op. 3 No. 3

(revised 1940 version)

Rodgers, R:

Hello young lovers (from The King and I)

(arr. Hough)

The Carousel Waltz

(arr. Hough)

Schubert:

Moments Musicaux, D780: No. 3 in F minor

(arr. Godowsky)

Morgengruss (No. 8 from Die schöne Müllerin, D795)

(arr. Godowsky)

Tchaikovsky:

Humoresque, Op. 10 No. 2

Dumka (Russian Rustic Scene), Op. 59

Pas de quatre

(arr. Wild)

Music from Sleeping Beauty

(arr. Pabst & Hough)

trad.:

Londonderry Air

(arr. Hough)


“Stephen Hough fashions a viable programme culled from a bottomless piano bench of transcriptions, encores and other sundry ear-ticklers.
Indeed, Hough proves that one can make a well-balanced meal using only desserts. Modern pianists, to be sure, are more calorie conscious than their forebears, and Hough is no exception.
It's not his way to emphasise inner voices or linger over juicy modulatory patterns, à la Hofmann, Moiseiwitsch, Horowitz, Cortot or Cherkassky. If Hough prefers to bind Godowsky's garish counterpoints with skimmed milk rather than double cream, he's cheeky (and smart!) enough to insert his own ossias into Moskowski's Etincelles, or to retool the Tchaikovsky/ Pabst Sleeping Beauty Paraphrase to more brilliant pianistic effect. As in his previous 'Piano Albums', Hough serves up his own Rodgers & Hammerstein transcriptions. If the decorative note-spinning in 'Hello, Young Lovers' distracts from rather than enhances the eloquent original, the pianist's giddy romp through 'The Carousel Waltz' is a tour de force that brilliantly recaptures both the tender and tough-minded qualities inherent in the musical's book. Hough's own Etude de Concert gets plenty of finger-twisting mileage out of a rather un-memorable theme, harmonised, however, with clever Gershwinisms.
The unadorned Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky selections are played with heartfelt simplicity and a lean yet singing sonority.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Hyperion Instrumental Selections - CDA67043

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Virtuoso Strauss Transcriptions

Virtuoso Strauss Transcriptions


Friedman, I:

Frühlingsstimmen (after Johann Strauss II)

Godowsky:

Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Johann Strauss: No. 2, Die Fledermaus

Rosenthal, Moritz:

Carnaval de Vienne

Humoresque on Themes by Johann Strauss

Fantasy on Johann Strauss

on themes from 'The Blue Danube', 'Die Fledermaus' and 'Freut euch des Lebens'

Schulz-Evler:

Arabesques on themes from 'The Beautiful Blue Danube'

Tausig:

Nouvelles Soirées de Vienne

Three Valses-Caprices after Johann Strauss


Piers Lane (piano)

‘Once again Piers Lane demonstrates his supreme virtuosity and brilliant technique (at times it is quite unbelievable that only ten fingers are at work) … hugely enjoyable … ideal fun present’ (Classic CD)

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Helios - CDH55238

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