A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare

FRIEDMAN, Ignaz (1882-1948)

PIANO TRANSCRIPTIONS

BACH • COUPERIN • DALAYRAC • DANDRIEU • FIELD • FRANCK • GLUCK • GRAZIOLI • RAMEAU • SCARLATTI


  • Joseph Banowetz, piano

Polish pianist Ignaz Friedman was one of the leading virtuosos of his day but was also a composer and a master transcriber. Friedman’s transcriptions are both a delight for the listener and a challenge for the performer, and his creative imagination gives these delicious, charming and moving works a life of their own, introducing pianistic effects both breathtakingly bravura and disarmingly subtle while remaining faithful to the originals.

Visit the ALBUM MINI-SITE

Tracklist

Bach, Johann Sebastian
1
Flute Sonata in E-Flat Major, BWV 1031: II. Siciliano (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1734) (00:02:16)
Rameau, Jean-Philippe
2
Pièces de clavecin: Suite in E Minor: V. Le rappel des oiseaux (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1724) (00:03:05)
3
Les Indes galantes: Musette (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1736) * (00:02:07)
Gluck, Christoph Willibald
4
Orfeo ed Euridice, Act II: Dance of the Blessed Spirits, "Mélodie" (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1762) (00:04:12)
Field, John
5
Nocturne No. 5 in B-Flat Major, H. 37 (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1817) * (00:05:03)
Franck, César
6
6 Pieces for Organ: No. 3. Prelude, fugue et variation in B Minor, Op. 18, M. 30 (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1864) (00:09:09)
Dalayrac, Nicolas-Marie
7
Nina, ou La folle par amour: Romance (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1786) (00:03:13)
Dandrieu, Jean-Francois
8
Le Caquet (arr. I. Friedman for piano) () (00:01:39)
9
Pièces de Clavecin, Book 1, Suite No. 4: Les Fifres (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1705) (00:02:40)
Scarlatti, Domenico
10
Keyboard Sonata in G Major, K.523/L.490/P.527 (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1757) (00:02:53)
11
Keyboard Sonata in F Major, K.446/L.433/P.177 (arr. I. Friedman for piano) () (00:05:44)
Gluck, Christoph Willibald
12
Don Juan: Gavotte (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1761) * (00:04:17)
Couperin, François
13
Pieces de clavecin, Book 1: 5th Ordre in A Major-Minor: La Tendre Fanchon (arr. I. Friedman for piano) (1713) (00:03:53)
Grazioli, Giovanni Battista
14
Adagio (arr. I. Friedman for piano) () (00:11:08)
Gluck, Christoph Willibald
15
Orfeo ed Euridice: Ballet des Ombres Heureuses (arr. I. Friedman for piano) () (00:04:01)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:05:20

The Artist

Banowetz, Joseph

Grammy®-nominated American pianist Joseph Banowetz has been heard as recitalist and orchestral soloist on five continents, with performances with such orchestras as the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow State Symphony, the Prague and Bratislava Radio Orchestras, the Budapest Symphony, the Barcelona Concert Society Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony, the Beijing National Philharmonic, the Shanghai Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Seoul Philharmonic. Banowetz is also well known as an author. His book The Pianist’s Guide to Pedalling (Indiana University Press) has to date been printed in seven languages. He is a graduate with a First Prize from the Vienna Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, and his teachers have included Carl Friedberg (a pupil of Clara Schumann) and György Sándor (a pupil of Bartók).

The Composer

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach belonged to a dynasty of musicians. In following inevitable family tradition, he excelled his forebears and contemporaries, although he did not always receive in his own lifetime the respect he deserved. He spent his earlier career principally as an organist, latterly at the court of one of the two ruling Grand Dukes of Weimar. In 1717 he moved to Cöthen as Court Kapellmeister to the young Prince Leopold and in 1723 made his final move to Leipzig, where he was employed as Cantor at the Choir School of St Thomas, with responsibility for music in the five principal city churches. In Leipzig he also eventually took charge of the University Collegium musicum and occupied himself with the collection and publication of many of his earlier compositions. Despite widespread neglect for almost a century after his death, Bach is now regarded as one of the greatest of all composers. Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis numbers, abbreviated to BWV, are generally accepted for convenience of reference.

Choral and Vocal Music

Bach wrote a very large amount of choral music, particularly in connection with his employment at Leipzig. Here, he prepared complete cycles of cantatas for use throughout the church year, in addition to the larger-scale settings of the Latin Mass and the accounts of the Passion from the gospels of St Matthew and of St John. These works include the Mass in B minor, BWV 232, St Matthew Passion, BWV 244, St John Passion, BWV 245, Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, and the revised setting of the Magnificat, BWV 243. Cantatas include, out of over 200 that survive, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (from which the pianist Dame Myra Hess took her piano arrangement under the title Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, making this the most popular of all), Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80, Ich habe genug, BWV 82, Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 358, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199, Wachet auf, BWV 140, and Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51, for soprano, trumpet, strings and basso continuo. The rather more formal half dozen or so motets include a memorable version of Psalm CXVII, Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230.

Secular cantatas include the light-hearted Coffee Cantata, BWV 211 (a father’s attempt to stem his daughter’s addiction to the fashionable drink), the Peasant Cantata, BWV 212 (in honour of a newly appointed official), and two wedding cantatas, Weichet nur, BWV 202, and O holder Tag, BWV 210. Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208, was written in 1713 to celebrate the birthday of the hunting Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels and later reworked for the name day of August III, King of Saxony, in the 1740s. The Italian Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209, apparently marked the departure of a scholar or friend from Leipzig.

Organ Music

Much of Bach’s organ music was written during the earlier part of his career, culminating in the period he spent as court organist at Weimar. Among many well-known compositions we may single out the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903, the Dorian Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564, Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, Prelude and Fugue “St Anne”, BWV 552 (in which the fugue theme resembles the well-known English hymn of that name), Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, and the Toccata and Fugue in F, BWV 540.

Chorale preludes are compositions for organ that consist of short variations on simple hymn tunes for all seasons of the church year. Better-known melodies used include the Christmas In dulci jubilo, BWV 608, Puer natus in Bethlehem, BWV 603, the Holy Week Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625, and the Easter Christ ist erstanden, BWV 627, as well as the moving Durch Adam’s Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV 637, and the familiar Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, and Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 657.

Other Keyboard Music

Important sets of pieces are the six English Suites, BWV 806–11, the six French Suites, BWV 812–17, the ‘Goldberg’ Variations, BWV 988 (written to soothe an insomniac patron), the ‘Italian’ Concerto, BWV 971, the six partitas, BWV 825–30, and the monumental two books of preludes and fugues in all keys, The Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846–93—the so-called ‘48’.

Chamber Music

During the period Bach spent at Cöthen he was able to devote his attention more particularly to instrumental composition for solo instruments, for smaller groups or for the small court orchestra.

Particularly important are the three sonatas and three partitas for unaccompanied violin, BWV 1001–6, works that make great technical demands on a player, and the six suites for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007–12. There are six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014–19, and an interesting group of three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, sometimes appropriated today by viola players or cellists, BWV 1027–9. The Musical Offering resulted from Bach’s visit in 1747 to the court of Frederick the Great, where his son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed. From a theme provided by the flautist king he wrote a work that demonstrates his own contrapuntal mastery and includes a trio sonata for flute, violin and continuo. Bach had earlier in his career written a series of flute sonatas, as well as a partita for unaccompanied flute.

Orchestral Music

The six ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos, BWV 1046–51, dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721, feature a variety of forms and groups of instruments, while the four orchestral suites or overtures, BWV 1066–1069, include the famous ‘Air on the G String’, a late-19th-century transcription of the Air from the Suite in D major, BWV 1068.

Concertos

Three of Bach’s violin concertos, written at Cöthen between 1717 and 1723, survive in their original form, with others existing now only in later harpsichord transcriptions. The works in original form are the Concertos in A minor and in E major, BWV 1041 and 1042, and the Double Concerto in D minor for two violins, BWV 1043.

Bach wrote or arranged his harpsichord concertos principally for the use of himself and his sons with the Leipzig University Collegium musicum between 1735 and 1740. These works include eight for a single solo harpsichord and strings, BWV 1052–9, and others for two, three and four harpsichords and strings. It has been possible to provide conjectural reconstructions of lost instrumental concertos from these harpsichord concertos, including a group originally for oboe and the oboe d’amore and one for violin and oboe.

François Couperin, known as le grand to distinguish him from an uncle of the same name, was the most distinguished of a numerous family of French musicians, officially succeeding his uncle and father as organist of the Paris church of St Gervais when he was 18. He enjoyed royal patronage under Louis XIV and in 1693 was appointed royal organist and, belatedly, royal harpsichordist. As a keyboard player and composer he was pre-eminent in France at the height of his career. He died in Paris in 1733.

Church Music

Couperin composed church music for the Royal Chapel under Louis XIV. The surviving Leçons de ténèbres are possibly the best example of this form of composition—settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for the Holy Week liturgy. The first two of the three are for soprano solo and continuo (the vocal part of the second pitched slightly lower than that of the first), and the third is for two sopranos and continuo.

Chamber Music

Couperin’s chamber music includes L’Apothéose de Lully (‘The Apotheosis of Lully’), a tribute to the leading composer in France in the second half of the 17th century, Jean-Baptiste Lully. A tribute to the Italian composer Corelli, L’Apothéose de Corelli, is part of a larger collection of ensemble pieces under the title Les Goûts réunis (‘Tastes United’). It was an exploration of the rival French and Italian tastes in music, a quarrel in which Couperin remained neutral. The Concerts royaux represent another important element in Couperin’s music for instrumental ensemble.

Harpsichord Music

Couperin’s compositions for the harpsichord occupy a very important position in French music. His 27 suites, most of them published between 1713 and 1730, contain many pieces that are descriptive in one way or another. These richly varied suites, or ordres, represent the height of Couperin’s achievement as a composer and arguably that of the French harpsichord composers.

Organist from 1705 at the church of St Merry in Paris, the French composer and harpsichordist Jean-François Dandrieu, member of a musical family, was in 1721 appointed an organist of the royal chapel. Earlier he perhaps deputised for his uncle Pierre Dandrieu, priest and organist at St Bartélemy, where Jean-François was later buried.

Keyboard Music

Dandrieu’s collections of keyboard works seem to include compositions by his uncle, which he revised to accord with contemporary taste. Including works for both harpsichord and organ, he followed the practice of providing short pieces with appropriate titles to indicate the character of the music.

To the Irish pianist and composer John Field has been credited the invention of the Nocturne, a form later adopted and developed by Chopin. Field was born in Dublin in 1782, the son of a violinist, but moved with his family to London in 1793, perhaps taking violin lessons from Haydn’s friend Salomon. He became an apprentice of Muzio Clementi, appearing in a series of important London concerts, and later touring widely. After concerts in Russia, he remained in St. Petersburg, where he became a fashionable teacher and performer, moving to Moscow in 1821. Illness brought him, in 1831, to London again, a visit followed by a continental tour and a final return to Moscow, where he died in 1837.

Piano Music

Although Field wrote seven piano concertos and a series of chamber compositions for piano and strings, his chief claim on posterity lies in his eighteen Nocturnes.

Born in Liège in 1822, César Franck was originally intended by his father for a career as a virtuoso pianist. In Paris his nationality excluded him at first from the Conservatoire, where he eventually failed to achieve the necessary distinction as a performer, turning his attention rather to composition. In 1846 he left home and went to earn his living in Paris as a teacher and organist, winning particular fame in the second capacity at the newly built church of Ste Clotilde, with its Cavaillé-Coll organ. He drew to himself a loyal and devoted circle of pupils and in 1871 won some official recognition as the nominated successor of Benoist as organ professor at the Conservatoire. A man of gentle character, known to his pupils as ‘Pater seraphicus’, he exercised considerable influence through his classes and performances although he remained, as a composer, something of an outsider in a Paris interested largely in opera.

Orchestral Music

Franck’s best-known orchestral works are the Symphonic Variations for solo piano and orchestra and the Symphony in D minor, completed in 1888 and first performed at a Conservatoire concert the following year. A brief series of symphonic poems includes the early Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne (‘What is heard on the mountain’), based on Victor Hugo’s Le Chasseur maudit (‘The Accursed Huntsman’); Les Djinns, again after Hugo; and Psyché, a symphonic poem with chorus.

Sacred Music

Franck wrote a number of large-scale choral works on biblical subjects, as well as smaller-scale works for occasional or liturgical use. This last category includes the well-known Panis angelicus of 1872, originally for tenor, organ, harp, cello and double bass. Panis angelicus was later interpolated into the three-voice Mass of 1861.

Chamber Music

Franck wrote one violin sonata, which, like his symphony, is united by a cyclic use of thematic material that connects the movements. There is also a fine piano quintet, completed in 1879, and a final string quartet, written in 1890.

Organ Music

As a very distinguished organist, Franck wrote remarkably little for the instrument on which his improvisations had won him fame and pupils. Organ compositions published include Trois Chorals of 1890 and Trois Pièces, written a dozen years earlier. The six organ pieces published in 1868 are entitled Fantaisie; Grande Pièce Symphonique; Prélude, fugue et variation; Pastorale; Prière; and Final.

Piano Music

Franck’s earlier piano music was designed for his own virtuoso performance. Two later works remain in general repertoire: the Prélude, choral et fugue of 1884 and the Prélude, aria et final, completed in 1887.

Opera in Western Europe arose in Italy at the end of the 16th century. The form underwent various changes and reforms, and the name of Gluck is associated with a tendency to greater operatic realism, the drama subsumed in the music, his principles expounded in an introduction to his opera Alceste in 1767. Reform opera, exemplified in the later work of Gluck, represented a reaction against the stylised forms of later Baroque opera. Gluck achieved considerable success in Vienna, Paris and elsewhere in Europe.

Operas

Gluck wrote over 40 operas. Of these Orfeo ed Euridice, staged in Vienna in 1762 in its original Italian version and in Paris in 1774 in a French version, is the best known. It is a treatment of the story of the legendary musician Orpheus and his journey to the Underworld to bring back his beloved Eurydice—an ancient illustration of the power of music. Alceste again involves Greek legend, as do the two tragedies Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride, first staged in Paris in 1774 and 1779 respectively.

By far the best known of all excerpts from operas by Gluck is the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ from the French version of Orfeo (Orphée et Eurydice), closely rivalled by the aria ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ from the same opera. The soprano aria ‘Divinité du Styx’ from Alceste is also popular in recital.

Ballet Music

Gluck was associated with the choreographer and dancer Angiolini. Their first collaboration was on the subject of Don Juan (later used by Mozart in his Don Giovanni), based on the Spanish play by Tirso de Molina.

Rameau was the leading French composer of his time, particularly after the death of Couperin in 1733. He made a significant and lasting contribution to musical theory. Born in Dijon, two years before the year of birth of Handel, Bach and Domenico Scarlatti, Rameau spent the earlier part of his career principally as organist at Clermont Cathedral. In 1722 or 1723, however, he settled in Paris, publishing further collections of harpsichord pieces and his important Treatise on Harmony, written before his removal to Paris. From 1733 he devoted himself largely to the composition of opera and to his work as a theorist, the first under the patronage of a rich amateur, in whose house he had an apartment.

Dramatic Works

Rameau contributed to a variety of dramatic forms, continuing, in some, the tradition of Lully. These included tragédies lyriques, comédies lyriques and comédies-ballets. His first success in 1733 was Hippolyte et Aricie, but as time went on fashions changed and the stage works he wrote after Les Paladins in 1760 remained unperformed. Orchestral suites derived from some of Rameau’s stage works at least make a certain amount of this music readily available.

Keyboard Music

Sixty of Rameau’s 65 harpsichord pieces were written by 1728, with a final group appearing in 1741. Published in 1706, 1724 and around the year 1728, these collections, with the final collection of 1741, consist of genre pieces and dances in the established tradition of French keyboard music.

Chamber Music

In the later part of his career Rameau also wrote a series of suites, the Pièces de clavecin en concerts, for harpsichord, flute or violin and second violin or tenor viol.

Sixth of the ten children of Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples in 1685, sharing his year of birth with Handel and J.S. Bach. After an earlier period in Italy he moved to Portugal, and thence to Madrid in the service of the Infanta Maria Barbara, after her marriage to the Spanish Infante. He remained in the service of Maria Barbara after her husband’s accession to the throne and died in Madrid in 1757. He is chiefly known for the large number of short sonatas he wrote for the harpsichord, many of them for his royal pupil and patron.

Keyboard Music

Domenico Scarlatti wrote over 550 single-movement sonatas or ‘exercises’ for the harpsichord, making characteristic but innovative use of the instrument. The Queen also had pianos in her palaces, and some of the sonatas may have been written with these early hammer-action instruments in mind. K. numbers are based on the catalogue of Scarlatti’s sonatas compiled by the American harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick.

Vocal, Choral and Instrumental Music

Scarlatti’s earlier compositions include operas, oratorios and other vocal music. His choral music dates first from his early years in Rome under his father’s direct guidance. Other works were written for the Patriarchal Chapel in Lisbon. He wrote a relatively small number of sinfonias for instrumental ensemble.

Reviews

“Throughout this collection of transcriptions, our appreciation is aided immensely by Joseph Banowetz’s almost serendipitous understanding of the period’s style. Perhaps the most timeless selection on the CD is the Siciliano from a Bach flute sonata, which opens the album. Here everything seems to have fallen into place in the arrangement without a wasted note. Banowetz’s rendition of it is exquisite, evoking the great pianist-composers of Friedman’s time.” – Fanfare

“Everything is lovingly and passionately performed by Joseph Banowetz on a Steinway D concert grand piano in a recording made in the Trinity Lutheran Church in Buffalo, NY. The sound captures the full tonality of that fine instrument in an ideal space. ” – Fanfare

“Banowetz plays this music with affection and understanding, and with a strong technique that does not call attention to itself—no “playing to the gallery” here either. His legato playing and control over dynamics, as well as his balancing of chords, make this a most refined listening experience.” – Fanfare

“This rewarding album can be enjoyed from two perspectives: first as a lovely program of sensitive transcriptions, and second as a historical record of how the modern era of the grand piano approached a much earlier era when the organ and harpsichord dominated. …Warmly recommended.” – Fanfare

“Fine recording, good notes, and playing of notable expertise.” – American Record Guide

“…stunningly well played and phrased throughout. …the piano sound is extremely well captured and the playing is fantastic. The music sustains interest throughout.” – MusicWeb International

“The famous American pianist, Joseph Banowetz, displays his ability to charm the ear with the utmost delicacy.” – David Denton