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GODARD, Benjamin (1852-1931)

PIANO WORKS • 1

PIANO SONATA NO. 2, OP. 94 • ’SONATE FANTASTIQUE’, OP. 63 • PROMENADE EN MER, OP. 86 • SUR LA MER, OP. 44 • AU MATIN, OP. 83 • CONTE DE FÉE, OP. 62


  • Eliane Reyes, piano

Benjamin Godard was regarded as one of the most promising French composers of the second half of the nineteenth century but, as he stood firm against the ‘Wagner fever’ of his contemporaries, his music fell out of favour after his untimely death. Most of his piano works are delightful character pieces or miniatures but his two powerful piano sonatas make him one of the very few French composers to have experimented with this form.

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Tracklist

 
Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 94 () (00:24:18 )
1
I. Allegro con moto ma non troppo (00:10:01)
2
II. Quasi adagio, molto tranquillo (00:08:15)
3
III. Scherzo-Final: Allegro non troppo (00:07:16)
 
Sonate Fantastique, Op. 63 () (00:24:39 )
4
I. Les Genies de la Foret: Allegro vivace (00:10:16)
5
II. Les Farfadets: Scherzo, vivace ma non troppo (00:03:26)
6
III. La Fee d'Amour: Quasi adagio (00:06:25)
7
IV. Les Esprits de la Mer: Allegro vivace (00:04:42)
8
Promenade en Mer, Op. 86 () * (00:03:28)
9
Sur la Mer, Op. 44 () * (00:04:13)
10
Au Matin, Op. 83 (1887) * (00:05:30)
11
Conte de Fee, Op. 62 () * (00:06:08)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:09:40

The Artist

Belgian pianist Eliane Reyes is a laureate of the Cziffra Competition at Senlis and has studied at the Brussels Conservatoire Royal, Berlin Hochschule des Künste, Salzburg Mozarteum and the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur. She has an active international concert career. Her recordings have been previously nominated for the International Classical Music Awards, including her recording of piano works by Nicolas Bacri [Naxos 8.572530]. She is professor of piano at the Brussels Conservatoire Royal de Musique.

www.eliane-reyes.com

The Composer

A violist and pupil of Henri Vieuxtemps, the French composer Benjamin Louis Paul Godard won a precociously early reputation as a composer of salon music, with a series of pieces that would once have found a ready place in any album of piano music. His other music, influenced by contemporary German trends, is more substantial, if neglected.

Operas

Godard is chiefly remembered for his operas. Les bijoux de Jeanette, his first opera, was produced in 1878, followed by Pedro de Zalamea in 1884 and Jocelyn in 1888. The Berceuse from Jocelyn proved its most popular element and has been arranged for numerous combinations of instruments and voices. Other operas were unsuccessful, although his final comic opera La vivandière, left incomplete at his death, seemed to promise more.

Orchestral Music

The four published symphonies of Godard include a Symphonie gothique and a Symphonie orientale, while his concertos consist of two Piano Concertos and two Violin Concertos, the first a Concert romantique. Other works include orchestral arrangement of the piano Scènes italiennes and Scènes écossaises.

Chamber Music

Godard wrote five Violin Sonatas and a series of other pieces for violin and piano and other ensembles.

Piano Music

Much of Godard’s piano music is in the form of salon pieces of no great pretensions, designed for a lucrative popular market.

Reviews

Classica

“Eliane Reyes, professor at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, presents this original programme with admirable commitment and embraces a round, powerful and diversified sonority. She is at ease in moments of great velocity as well as in moments of the most delicate harmonic refinements.” – Classica

“Her [Eliane Reyes] playing is flowing, clearly contoured but with a restrained softness and noblesse which is good for the pieces and shifts them in a light and, at the same time, remote sphere. The great sound of the disc also enhances the musical enjoyment.” – Piano News

“Belgian-pianist, Eliane Reyes, proves the ideal protagonist for Godard’s musical writing, enhanced by the faithfully-recorded Steinway Model D Grand. She has the ability to produce unlimited subtle tonal shadings, is always aware of linear clarity, observes points of articulation with impeccable precision, especially where this involves the simultaneous use of staccato and legato in one hand, and has such a well-honed technique to dispatch any of the difficulties with real aplomb.” – MusicWeb International

“The Belgian pianist Eliane Reyes interprets a wide selection of his [Godard’s] lyrical piano works with insight and great clarity and shows the genius of a composer who was forgotten too quickly.” – Crescendo (Germany)

Diapason

“Could this be the return to grace of Benjamin Godard (1849–1895), a celebrity in his own time? The demanding Sonata No. 2, with a striking Scherzo movement, dominates this first volume, which also features a Sonate fantastique…and other previously unrecorded works. The assured playing of Eliane Reyes, her energy and warmth, all contribute to make this rediscovery attractive.” – Diapason

La Libre Belgique

“This is a beautiful idea from Belgian pianist Eliane Reyes to explore and make known the piano works of Benjamin Godard… Reyes discovers here two beautiful classical sonatas and four miniatures… Her playing is without affectation, clear and evocative of the works’ imagery.” – La Libre Belgique

“The disc comes from the much experienced Belgium pianist, Eliane Reyes, who revels in the technically demanding passages, but is also a pianist of rare lyric beauty. Every moment is an absolute joy and it comes in outstanding sound quality.” – David Denton