NICOLAS HORVATH has once again graced the Grand Hall of the Philharmonie de Paris, this time in an 8-hour recital of Erik Satie’s complete piano works. Many journals subsequently hailed it as the leading cultural event of the 2018 Paris Nuit Blanche (White Night) Festival. Horvath opened this latest in his series of epic programmes on the evening of October 6 with Vexations, and finished with Gymnopédie No. 1 the next morning. Horvath presented Philip Glass’ complete works for piano in the same venue two years ago, when the recital lasted some 12 hours. You can watch a video of the entire Satie concert by visiting PhilharmoniedeParis.fr (available for the next six months).
The latest volume in Horvath’s Satie complete piano edition on Grand Piano was released in May 2018 (GP763). Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review commented that “His performances have a touching freshness and lack of pretense that seem to me nicely hewing to the spirit of these works. In that way perhaps you hear the Satie a little bit more than you hear the pianist, which is in no way a bad thing. Horvath is pretty selfless throughout.” Previous volumes in the set are available on GP761 (Vol. 1) and GP762 (Vol. 2).
With the first two volumes already released and the third to be recorded by the end of the year, Álvaro Cendoya discusses his 8-volume project to record Manuel Ponce’s piano music for Grand Piano. The pianist is in discussion with San Sebastián’s leading music journal, El Diario Viasco. The interview is conducted in Spanish: https://www.diariovasco.com/culturas/musica/compositores-conocidos-merecen-20180923005734-ntvo.html.
Anyone who has followed the development of the Grand Piano label will readily recognise the name of French composer Florent Schmitt (1870–1958). Recordings of his works for piano duet and duo have featured as regular additions to the catalogue, with Vol. 1 appearing in October 2012, one of the earliest entries in the Grand Piano discography. They are now available complete, in four volumes, all performed by the Invencia Piano Duo.
Schmitt has been labelled a product of German romanticism, French sensibilities, exotic locales, Russian experimentalism, and orientalisms. All of which adds up to an independent, creative force to be reckoned with; one who made authentically original contributions to twentieth-century music.
Schmitt’s Feuillets de voyage, Books 1 and 2 are early works, dating from 1903–1905, and acted as a musical travel diary for the composer. The works are featured on Volume 3 of the Grand Piano edition (“…Feuillets de voyage each contain five pieces … Invencia plays them with charm and panache.” American Record Guide). The composer went on to orchestrate the majority of them, though these versions remain unrecorded. You can now learn more about the background to these engaging pieces in a recently published article by Philip Nones, a noted blogger on Schmitt’s music, by following this link.
Grand Piano artist Zuzana Šimurdová has had a busy few months promoting the piano sonatas of the 20th-century Czech composer Luboš Fišer. Zuzana’s recording of his complete piano sonatas (GP770) was released in October last year, since when it has received sustained critical praise, both for her advocacy of these rarely performed works (“Šimurdová’s playing, like her liner notes, has the unmistakable conviction and persuasiveness of a true believer.” Fanfare) and for her performances (“The interpretation of Zuzana Šimurdová makes clear all the contrasts of this intense and vivid music in a masterful way.” Ritmo ).
The Czech-Canadian pianist has been introducing audiences in both Russia and Canada to Fišer’s distinctive keyboard works at CD release concerts and festivals. In April, Zuzana performed Fišer’s Fifth Sonata as part of the opening night programme of Moscow’s Spring in Russia festival, and again the following month in Edmonton, Canada.
Fišer wrote 8 piano sonatas (the second was lost), and Zuzana’s Grand Piano recording of all the extant works includes world premiere recordings of Sonatas Nos. 3, 4 and 7. You can view concert recordings of Sonatas Nos. 5 and 8 by following the links below. Canadians wanting to hear a live performance should take a note of Zuzana’s upcoming recitals, which will take place on 1 September in Edmonton’s Convocation Hall, and 27 October in Montreal.
Argentinian-American pianist Mirian Conti has built a career on the music of non-canonical composers. That’s not to say she’s ill-versed in the classics—far from it, in fact, as countless glowing reviews can attest. But even though Conti is equally at home in Chopin as she is in Halffter, she is first and foremost a champion of lesser-known pieces, both old and new.
Conti’s passion for new music found voice most recently in a recording of fellow Argentinian Lalo Schifrin’s complete works for solo piano. Continue reading