The piano was an essential item of musical entertainment in the 19th century, and it was through this instrument that many became familiar with opera music, as fantasias based on various operas were composed for piano, allowing those who were not regular opera-goers to be exposed to its music.
This collection brings together selected opera themes adapted for two pianos.
Fantasias and variations by Carl Czerny, who was a worldwide name at the time, were extremely popular; this disc includes his Introduction and Variations Op.398 based on the cavatina from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, as well as the variations on a theme of Rossini, La cornetta del postiglione Op.282. Czerny was the only teacher of young virtuoso Franz Liszt, whose characteristically elaborate Funeral March and Cavatina S398 from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor appears in this collection, along with the Grande Fantasie S393 on Bellini’s La sonnambula. Liszt’s main pianistic rival – and antithesis, with his calm demeanour and more delicate playing style – was Sigismond Thalberg, whose Fantasia Op.33 on a theme from Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto is as complex as Liszt’s offerings. Mikhail Glinka, often referred to as the father of Russian classical music, spent time in Italy during his youth, where his studies at the Milan Conservatory included Italian opera. His Impromptu en Galoppe on the famous barcarolle from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore also features on the disc. The works are performed by the celebrated Portenaw Piano Duo: Franco Calabretto and Eddi De Nadai.
Rarely recorded repertoire.
New booklet notes by pianist and composer Jed Distler.
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.