Muzio Clementi · Keyboard Sonatas & Fantasia
Muzio Clementi’s legacy to pianists is recognised as highly significant for his introduction of a new virtuosity and exploration of the possibilities of the then recently invented fortepiano. His three Sonatas, Op. 23 were published in London in 1790, their style reflecting Haydn’s tremendous popularity in the city at that time. The later Sonata, Op. 34 offers more dramatic contrast, sparkling with chains of thirds, hand- crossing and much use of octaves, comparable resources also being explored in the Fantasia con variazioni on the familiar song ‘Au clair de la lune’.
Manuel de Falla · Complete Piano Music
Manuel de Falla’s small oeuvre includes symphonic, instrumental, vocal and theatrical music. Yet for each genre the piano is clearly Falla’s source of inspiration, Therefore a recording of Falla’s complete piano music is both an ideal entry into his musical world for beginners and the key to understand his orchestral and other music for connaisseurs.
Robert Schumann · 4 Marches · 4 Fugues
Schumann’s Four Fugues, Op. 72 were written during a period of ill-health in 1845 but these masterly pieces reveal nothing of his private turmoil. The Album für die Jugend followed in 1848. In this recording we hear the alternative version of Wilder Reiter (The Wild Rider), with its slightly more ambitious ending, as well as those pieces Schumann excised from the first edition. The Revolutionary year of 1849 brought resurgence in his creativity in the form of the Four Marches, Op. 76 which are imbued with a martial spirit. The Albumblatt: Ahnung (Album Leaf: Foreboding) was only rediscovered in 2007.
José Gonzalo Zulaika / Francisco de Madina
The pairing on this album is unquestionably apt, bringing together as it does works by perhaps the two most famous "aitas" - priests - in Basque music: Father José Antonio de Donostia and Father Francisco de Madina. Whatever the similarities and differences between the two men, the former born twenty-one years earlier than the latter, both composers succeeded in incorporating, with exquisite elegance, a profound sense of local folk traditions into their music, creating works that have since earned classic status in Basque culture.
Ludwig van Beethoven / Manuel de Falla / Isaac Albéniz
The Piano Sonata op. 111 by Beethoven is one of the most representative of all his repertoire. Composed in 1822, this piece contains an entire inner world in two movements, as a composer's spiritual legacy. The Albaicín, work inspired by the Granada's quartier of the same name, is considered by many musicians the most masterly piece of the whole Iberia Piano Suite. Composed in 1908, contains a deep lyricism which contrasts with alternating rhythms elements that refer to strumming arpeggios typical of flamenco guitar.
The suite Iberia, written between December 1905 and January 1908, represents the fulfilment of the aim that had inspired the career of Albéniz, which consisted, in his own words, in creating 'Spanish music with a universal accent'. Albéniz was already seriously ill when he composed, in less than two years, these twelve pieces which, on the one hand, represent the aesthetic and technical culmination of post-romantic piano music and, on the other, provide a starting-point and necessary point of reference for piano music of the twentieth century, perhaps, according to Messiaen, the most important one. Contrary to what is often said, there is no break or failure of his talent as a composer, producing a radical change between the piano pieces of the Souvenirs or the Cantos de España and the best elements of Iberia. Their technique can be traced back to the composer's earlier years as a precocious virtuoso performer and even the procedures followed are basically the same, a tendency towards the brief cantabile composition, a central copla, which acts as a melodic axis, with symmetry in the recapitulation, powerful fundamental rhythm, harmonic boldness and a lack of interest in rhetorical developments. All these features are to be found both in his compositions from the 1880s and in the masterpieces that he produced at the end of his life.
Berg first studied under Arnold Schoenberg in the Autumn of 1904, taking lessons in harmony and counterpoint. Later, in autumn 1907, he returned to begin studies in composition, which ended with the study of sonata movements. Several draft sketches of sonata movements date from this period and it is thought that Op. 1 followed from these drafts. The exact date of composition is unknown; although the second reissue of the score bears the date 1908, sources suggest that the Sonata was not composed until the spring or summer of 1909. The premiere of the Piano Sonata Op. 1 was given in Vienna on 24 April 1911 by Etta Werndorff. Other works by Berg and Anton Webern were also played at that concert.