After more than twenty years of recording for the major labels, I decided to create my own. The venture was launched in January 2001, at the dawn of the 21st century; hence my choice of PIANO 21 as an appropriate title. This is the vehicle for my own recordings, some of them of live performances. They comprise both new recordings and tracks from private and radiophonic archives from various countries as well as re-issues. PIANO 21 gives expression to my twofold passion to share not only music from the major repertoire – naturally – but also the discovery of rare and less well known works.
Le Carnaval des animaux · The Carnival of the Animals (transcription Garban/Katsaris)
Hymne à Victor Hugo (transcription Saint-Saëns)
Samson et Dalila – Bacchanale (transcription Saint-Saëns)
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, “Organ Symphony” (transcription Goetschius/Katsaris)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (transcription Bizet)
Africa – Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre (transcription Saint-Saëns)
Allegro appassionato (transcription Saint-Saëns)
Danse macabre (transcription Liszt/Katsaris)
L’assassinat du duc de Guise (transcription Roques)
In this box is included an exclusive DVD presenting
the original 1908 version of the film L’Assassinat du duc de Guise,
with the Saint-Saëns’s music recorded by Cyprien Katsaris.
Fantasia and Fugue in c minor, BWV 906
Toccata in d major, BWV 912
Prelude in a minor, BWV 922, “Fantasia”
Aria variata alla maniera italiana in a minor, BWV 989
Suite in e major, BWV 1006a (Arr. of Violin Partita No. 3)
Fugues on Themes of Albinoni BWV 946, 950 & 951
Keyboard Concerto in d minor, BWV 974 (after A. Marcello)
Keyboard Concerto in c minor, BWV 981 (after B. Marcello)
Keyboard Concerto in b minor, BWV 979 (after Torelli)
Keyboard Concerto in b-flat major, BWV 982 (after Prinz von Sachsen-Weimar)
Keyboard Concerto in g minor, BWV 983
Keyboard Sonata in c major, BWV 966 (after Reincken)
Organ Concerto in a minor, BWV 593 (after Vivaldi, arr. Feinberg)
CD1 https://music.apple.com/fr/album/bach-a-new-recital-piano-works-bwv-906-912-922-946/1601008563 CD2 https://music.apple.com/fr/album/bach-the-arranger-concertos-for-solo-keyboard-bwv-593/1600888554
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Suite for Two Pianos No. 1 in G minor, Op. 5 “Fantaisie-tableaux”
Suite pour deux pianos n° 1 en sol mineur
II. La nuit... l’amour - III. Les larmes
played on harp and piano • version pour harpe et piano
Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Harp Concerto in E minor, Op. 182
Concerto pour harpe et orchestre en mi mineur orchestral part arranged for solo piano by David Cutler
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Histoire du Tango
for ute and guitar • pour ûte et guitare
II. Cafe, 1930 • III. Night Club, 1960
harp part from the arrangement for ute and harp by Kari Vehmanen
piano part from the arrangement for piano four-hands by Kyoko Yamamoto (i.e “primo” part)
Régis CHESNEAU (born 1986) Contemplations I, II • Tableaux I - V • Impreso
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909) Pavana-Capricho, Op. 12
Sonatas Nos. 1, 5, 10, 14, 17, 23, 24 & 32
“Kurfürstensonate” No. 1 • 9 Variations on a March by Dressler
32 Variations on an Original Theme • Alla Ingharese quasi un Capriccio
7 Bagatelles, Op. 33 • Fantasia, Op. 77 • 2 Preludes
Musik zu einem Ritterballet • Sonatina and Adagio for Mandolin and Harpsichord
“Grande Sonate” after “String Trio, Op. 3” • Cello Sonata No. 2
Violin Sonatas No. 5 “Spring”, Nos. 7 & 9 “Kreutzer” • String Quartets Nos. 4, 6 & 16
String Quintet in C Major (Sketch) • Wir irren allesamt, WoO 198
Septet, Op. 20 • Serenade, Op. 25 • Contredanse, WoO 14/12 • Yorckscher March
Violin Concerto, Op. 61 • Symphony No. 9
Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Czerny, Anton Diabelli, Modest Mussorgsky,
Richard Wagner, Louis Winkler, etc.
In the early 80s I started thinking about composing a piano work of about 12/14-minutes based on the soundtrack of the movie Zorba the Greek somewhat in the style of what Franz Liszt had done with his popular Hungarian Rhapsodies.
In the 90s I received from the hands of Theodorakis the music score of his ballet Zorba which had been commissioned by the Verona Festival in Italy and in which he also included additional music after having spent 8 months on the new manuscript at his Paris flat. I read carefully that new score and was so impressed by its musical quality that I intended to expand on my first idea.
Completed in January 2007, this piano composition finally lasts 53 minutes and I intend to dedicate it to the Greek People. However, the piece is exceptionally difficult to learn and to perform: every time I opened my manuscript to start working on it, I found myself in no time having to leave it once more.
In the spring of 2017 I managed at last to complete this project. In addition, I also recorded a Spontaneous Improvisation on some of the most popular songs of Theodorakis which lasts about 15 minutes and I added a few of his original piano pieces in order to present several aspects of his musical genius.
Cyprien Katsaris invites the great Japanese pianist Etsuko Hirose to shed new light on excerpts from the most famous Russian ballets arranged here for four hands and two pianos. The masterpieces recorded here resonate with everyone (or almost everyone): The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky, Gayaneh by Khachaturian, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and, as a world premier, Stravinsky’s Firebird, played here with brio and passion by the two pianists.
These pearls of the Russian musical canon came inevitably to be arranged in various forms for the piano, allowing pianists, amateur and professional alike, to enjoy them to the full.
The title of "Elective Affinities" (Kindred by Choice), Goethe’s celebrated novel, harks back to the science of chemistry in the early days of the19th Century. It refers to the phenomenon that can result when two chemical compounds come into contact. If the affinity is strong enough, elements may detach themselves from either compound, free to combine anew with each other.
The programme for this CD attempts something similar, taking pieces out of context and juxtaposing them in twos, threes or fours with other compositions from different eras and cultural backgrounds. At stake is the possibility of unveiling new, underlying affinities having to do with the inspirational sources, musical genres, style or sentiments expressed in these pieces. Thus we find Schumann rubbing shoulders with Poulenc, Ravel and Jianzhong Wang revisiting the Far East, Liszt and Johann Strauss the Younger delving into the particular in quest of the universal. As the cherry on the cake, Katsaris pays homage to Chopin and Rachmaninov in two of his own compositions… which in turn offer resonances of two other composer-pianists, Tchaikovsky and Godowsky!
Poems by Goethe, Baudelaire, Aragon, Verlaine, Rückert and Lope de Vega: music like subtle meditations interwoven with these poems by Brahms, Loeffler, Petitgirard and Wolf; the unlikely, original blending of a lower-register female voice, that of Cécile Eloir, the adroitly muted viola playing of Pierre Lenert and the mostly middle-register piano of Cyprien Katsaris: this unprecedented project, a subtly-coloured journey through different worlds, takes us on an inspiring poetic and musical exploration.
With the collaboration of the Muscovite pianist Alexander Ghindin, Cyprien Katsaris explores lesser-known pieces of Russian music for four-hand piano. Occasional pieces, transcriptions, settings of popular songs or original compositions, these works by Glinka and Tchaikovsky will delight all those who take pleasure in erring from the beaten path. From the famous Fantasy on Two Russian Folk Songs transcribed by Balakirev, reputedly leader of the “Group of Five” to the traditional melodies of slavic folklore in all its abundance, this highly original programme is delivered in close understanding between two inspired virtuoso pianists.
In this recording, Cyprien Katsaris presents the young German-Luxembourgish clarinettist Katrin Hagen.
In 1891, Johannes Brahms was so moved, hearing the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld in Meiningen playing the Mozart and Weber concertos, that he decided to compose a trio and a quintet with strings for this instrument, followed in 1894 by his two Sonatas for Clarinet (or Viola) and Piano, op. 120; they were to be his last instrumental works. Brahms had truly been beguiled by the clarinet, and it may come as no surprise to learn that he composed these four pieces for “Fräulein Klarinette”. This CD features the lyrical yet intimate Sonata in F minor, op. 120 no. 1.
Just like Brahms in the evening of his life, Camille Saint-Saëns wrote his Sonata for Clarinet, op. 167 just a few months prior to his death. His writing for the piano had become spare for some years past with the consequence that it is not any longer virtuoso. This Sonata, dedicated to Auguste Périer, professor at the Conservatoire and soloist in the Opéra Comique Orchestra, makes wondrous use of every last resource of the clarinet.
A virtuoso musician who helped popularise the works of Mozart and Beethoven, the Finnish clarinettist Bernhard Henrik Crusell composed a host of chamber works, chiefly for the clarinet. His seven concertante works include three clarinet concertos. Concerto no. 3 in B flat major, op. 11 (1807?) starts with two movements similar in style to Weber and Mozart, while the third movement Alla Polacca is a distinct nod towards the finale Rondo alla Polacca of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
111 is the number of popular pieces that Cyprien Katsaris has assembled in the service of his one thousand and one fingers to lead us on a tour of the world illumined by his manual pyrotechnics. Over six hours of music embracing every age and every genre: the originality of this feast is that it is not confined to classical orthodoxy but rather opens windows on to territory that the ayatollahs of strict classicism would prefer to anathematise. Thus, to a Bach Prelude will respond a dance from West Side Story or an aria from Carmen! Why? Because music belongs to everyone, because music is made for everyone, because music should be able to bring pleasure to everyone.
These five CDs invite us to discover the various facets of the talents of Cyprien Katsaris: he is, of course, a virtuoso exponent of dexterity (just listen to The Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimsky-Korsakov, supercharged by Cziffra. The Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla or the Finale of Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto); he is also a virtuoso exponent of repertoire (ranging from Bach, the “Master”, with whom he begins, of course, to Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, but also Bernstein, Gottschalk and Mancini and his Pink Panther, or indeed from a waltz by Strauss to a tango by Piazzola or a Hungarian Dance by Brahms!) Moreover, he is a virtuoso exponent of style (from the tenderness of a Schumann Träumerei to the fireworks of the Khachaturian Sabre Dance; from the limpidity of Debussy’s Clair de Lune to the flamboyance of a Rachmaninov Prelude; from the sound of the guitar that he conjures up for Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra to the pure singing of the violin in the Méditation from Thaïs by Massenet or the choral mightiness of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.)
With this breathtaking musical garden of delights, one could be forgiven for thinking that Cyprien Katsaris’ intent was to produce a beguiling digest of all these pianistic peaks he has scaled, all the flashes that have marked his success, all the byways he has explored and vaulted in expressing his poetic personality.
This CD sees Cyprien Katsaris and Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St Martin in the Fields united in a performance of Beethoven’s Concerto no. 5, op. 73. The title “Emperor” is suggestive of a powerful counter-offensive impulsion on the part of Beethoven – the composer was living in Vienna – in reaction to the depredations of the Napoleonic hordes. He actually started composing it in 1809, just at the time that Austria was preparing to wage war on Napoleon, which does much to explain the military tone of the Concerto. Beethoven even went so far as to brandish his fist at a French officer in the Army of Occupation. The incident occurred in a Vienna café: Beethoven expostulated, “If I were a general and knew as much about military strategy as I do about counterpoint, you should have your money’s worth!”
Why then construct an arrangement for solo piano? Familiar from a very young age with a vinyl recording in his parents’ collection of the “Emperor” Concerto by Vladimir Horowitz with the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner, Cyprien Katsaris had always felt a degree of frustration regarding the orchestral passages he was appalled not to find them in the piano score, hence his determination, at 55 years of age, to produce this transcription.
This first volume of a series devoted to J. S. Bach affords an opportunity to compare the two versions of Prelude no. 1 in C major (First Book of the Well-tempered Clavier), along with such major works as Partita no. 1, BWV 825 and the French Suite no. 2, BWV 813, and rarer but no less inspiring pieces like the Prelude (Fantasy) in C minor, BWV 921, and the Fugue in A minor, BWV 959. At once both rigorous and hedonistic while avoiding extravagance or austerity, Katsaris succeeds in fusing a rich, full touch with a limpid contrapuntal structure. This programme is both surprising and admirably designed, with a logical through line of continuity.
This CD invites you to discover the transcribing works of Bach which inspired Mario Feninger (Siciliano, BWV 1031), Dame Myra Hess (Adagio from the Toccata for Organ, BWV 564) and Alexander Il’yich Ziloti (Prelude, BWV 855a). It also includes the transcriptions by Theodor Szántó (Prelude and Fugue, BWV 542), Camille Saint-Saëns (Largo from the Sonata no. 3, BWV 1005), Wilhelm Kempff (“Awake! the voice is calling to us!”, BWV 645) and by Sergueï Rachmaninov and Ignaz Friedman each producing his own new-minted version of the Gavotte en Rondeau, BWV 1006. Cyprien Katsaris here offers us among other things Bach’s four-part close harmony versions of the melodies by Johann Schop and Philipp Nicolai. He also provides us with arrangements of his own, namely those of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 and of the Badinerie, BWV 1067.
A tireless seeker of unfairly neglected works, Katsaris here offers an original programme on disc. This brings together for the first time five of the most beautiful concertos of the Bach family: Johann Sebastian, the famous father, and his sons: Wilhelm Friedemann, Johann Christian, Johann Christoph Friedrich and Carl Philipp Emanuel. Cyprien is here accompanied by the Echternach Festival Chamber Orchestra under the baton of the Korean conductor Yoon K. Lee. The pianist’s personal, disciplined approach carries the hallmark of a meticulous, inquisitive musical interpreter whose familiarity with this repertoire renders any philological squabbling irrelevant. He allows his inspiration free rein in these works, whence emerges their entire evolution, from Johann Sebastian’s rigorous polyphony to Wilhelm Friedemann’s pre-romantic development to Carl Philipp Emanuel’s robust theatricality.
This recording is dedicated to the three composers in the Mozart family: we discover Leopold Mozart through his Sonata in C major and the popular Toy Symphony arranged for piano by the American Matthew Cameron. Wolfgang Amadeus features on this CD with a selection of compositions he wrote as a 5 to 8-year-old boy. In addition, there is a piece written by Wolfgang to his sister Nannerl and another in which he erects a musical monument to his wife Constanze and his sister-in-law Sophie. From Franz Xaver Mozart, we have selected the 7 Variations on the Minuet of the opera “Don Giovanni”, the Sonata for Piano in G major and the Polonaise mélancolique in E minor.
On this disk, Cyprien Katsaris interprets transcriptions of certain scenes of the Magic Flute as treated by both Georges Bizet and Georges Mathias. Cyprien here plays not only the arrangement of the Overture of the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart himself, but also his own transcription of Belmonte’s first aria “Then must I see you here”. We can also discover the piano arrangement of the famous Symphony no. 40 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel. This CD ends with “A Little Night Music”, scored for solo piano by the New York pianist and composer Matthew Cameron.
PIANO 21’s first CD offers a unique opportunity to hear the first-ever recording of Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, as arranged for the piano by the composer. This version, published by Beethoven before the orchestral score, was bizarrely ignored by pianists for some two hundred years... Cyprien Katsaris lays hold of the piece in a performance that brings out its climatic versatility, deploying a whole panoply of nuance, tone and sonority. The CD also features the only piano arrangement Beethoven ever made of one of his own symphonies: the first forty-six bars of the Seventh Symphony.
Having explored the realm of Mexican piano music, Cyprien Katsaris has chosen a selection of pieces which reveal two major characteristics of the variety and the quality of this repertoire: romanticism and folkloric inspiration.
This CD is a deft, generally light-spirited collection of short Mexican pieces by Manuel Ponce, Juventino Rosas, Julio Ituarte, José Rolón, Rubén M. Campos, Alfredo Carrasco, and others. Those who think of Katsaris as a slightly hard pianist should turn to his poetic reading of Ponce’s bittersweet First Intermezzo or his dexterous and succulent account of Rolón’s Valse-Caprice on Rosas’s Sobre las Olas. The centrepiece of the recital is a series of 20 National Airs skilfully arranged by Rubén M. Campos, which showcases Katsaris’ extraordinary sensitivity in the dreamier numbers. Katsaris demonstrates an empathy with this repertoire that is utterly enchanting and captivating, as witness his exquisitely swung performance of Flacchebba’s atmospheric Danza Criolla.
By turns brilliant and sensual, picturesque and spiritual, Katsaris joyfully shares this music and offers it, exquisitely delicately packaged, to the world. A mysterious waft of the exotic permeates the aura of pure wellbeing…
This double CD contains the triumphant recital – also available on DVD – given by Cyprien Katsaris on 17th October 1999 in Carnegie Hall in memory of Frédéric Chopin on the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. Both parts of the programme begin with a funeral march – including the celebrated one from Sonata no. 2 op. 35 – followed by some of Chopin’s most popular works, including the Fantasy-impromptu op. 66, the Lullaby op. 57, the Polonaise “Militaire” op. 40 no. 1, the Nocturne op. 9 no. 2, the Mazurka op. 67 no. 4, the Fantasy op. 49, the Barcarolle op. 60 and the Sonata no. 3 op. 58... Katsaris presents us with anything but a routine reading of the Polish composer’s work. His approach is highly personal: unexpected counter-tones in his turn of phrase, tempi that are often unusual, breaks and contrasts informing dynamics, articulation and pedal work.
If you enjoy Tchaikovsky, Scriabin and Rachmaninov, you are very likely to be taken with the Russian composer Sergei Bortkiewicz in this selection of his most engaging pieces, with their ravishing melodies and sensitive and richly coloured sonorities. Bortkiewicz espoused a resolutely post-romantic aesthetic; several of his works bespeak the influence of Chopin and Liszt. Cyprien Katsaris, showing his customary virtuosity and enthusiasm, includes here some of the Preludes and Etudes of this little-known composer. Offering us a varied sequence of slow and fast pieces, Katsaris’ delightful recital admits us to the enveloping nostalgia of Bortkiewicz’s music.
Cyprien Katsaris shares with us his love for Cyprus – his island homeland – with its scents, poetry and magic. This original “Tribute to Cyprus” is a kind of panoply of music by European composers directly inspired by Cyprus. He has devised an admirably eclectic and diverse programme, both intelligently constructed and contrasted, but of undeniable logic and coherence. On this disc, there are seven pieces recorded for the first time anywhere, all associated with this country of history and legend. In particular, we have Wagner’s arrangement of two excerpts from The Queen of Cyprus by Halévy; a transcription of Rosamunde Princess of Cyprus by Schubert, and various pieces by Rosenhain (Morceau de Concert on The Queen of Cyprus, op. 34), Jensen (Songs of Ionia, Erotikon, op. 44), Popy (Ode to Venus, Grande Valse) and Fuleihan (Cypriana)… and Cyprien Katsaris’ own Cypriot Rhapsody. This piece, which unveils yet another facet of this pianist’s protean talents, was composed in 1978 for a charity concert in aid of Cypriot refugees, victims of the war of 1974.
This first volume in the series “Piano Rarities” is guaranteed to thrill questing music lovers. On this CD Cyprien Katsaris visits the vast realm of piano transcriptions and adaptations. Here, you will find well-known and well-loved works like the Lieder of Schumann, Schubert, Wagner and Richard Strauss, Mahler’s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony, the Waltz from Coppélia and Rachmaninov’s Vocalise: in solo piano transcription, they lose nothing of the emotional and poetic impact of their originals. A tireless explorer, Cyprien Katsaris challenges our curiosity and unveils true masterpieces, including works by Latin-American and Spanish composers like Tárrega, Barrios Mangoré and Mompou. Who could resist the magnificent transcription of the Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani by Kreisler which opens the programme, or the sparkling Valse by Reinhold Glière which brings it to its close? Here, through his choices and his interpretations, Cyprien Katsaris emerges once more as a thrilling man of music.
The appeal of this album owes much to the transcriptions of Professor Karol A. Penson, an eminent practising scientist whose contribution to the enrichment of the art and the repertoire of the piano is extraordinary.
With this second “Piano Rarities” album, Cyprien Katsaris honours an outpost of the French School little heeded on disc or in concert. True, Debussy, Ravel, the group of Six and Messiaen and Boulez symbolise the renewal of musical aesthetics, especially in writing for the piano, but there are others like Déodat de Séverac, Albert Lavignac, Noël and Jean Gallon and Simone Plé who presented us with subtle, expressive works that express wondrously that peculiarly French amalgam of allure and sustained emotion. This album offers up the sarcastic humour of Jean Wiener, the utter finesse of Jean-Michel Damase’s writing and the charm of pieces by Lean-Jacques Laubry and René Berthelot. Placing these with contemporary compositions by Stéphane Blet, Yves Claoué, Michel Sogny and the young composer Jacob Tardien, Cyprien Katsaris demonstrates the enormous diversity of the current musical language. However, it is with the five Etudes of Jean-Amedée Lefroid de Méreaux, here receiving their first recording anywhere, that this album will whet the appetites of melomanes and pianists alike. The improvisation on themes by French film music composers offered by Cyprien Katsaris at a concert in Japan provides a dazzling highlight to this passionate homage to French music.
With this third volume in the series “Piano Rarities”, Cyprien Katsaris continues exploring the almost limitless world of transcriptions for solo piano. This album, largely devoted to Russian and Central European composers, offers us tastes of the many aspects of the art of transcription. Melodies by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Moniuszko and Karłowicz offer up their charms in these arrangements in which transcribers each pits his ingenuity against the others’, imparting to them the qualities of true piano romances. The orchestral music of Khachaturian lends itself wonderfully to the piano: the extravagant virtuosity of the Sabre Dance keeps easy company with such moving pieces as the Lullaby or the Adagio from Spartacus; Suite no. 2 for two pianos by Rachmaninov, freed from the constraints of having two performers, comes across with the style of a single player, so gaining in coherence; the Adagio from Symphony no. 2, by the same composer, is striking in the immediacy of its emotion and the richness of its transcription for the piano.
“Album d’un Voyageur” was the title chosen by Franz Liszt for a collection of nineteen pieces that he published in 1835/1836 following a trip to Switzerland. His career as a virtuoso pianist meant incessant travelling. Here, Cyprien Katsaris offers a kaleidoscope of works that he too plays on his many trips. Always aiming to please his cosmopolitan public, the pianist chooses, frequently for encores, works that typify the countries he visits. From time to time he will, just prior to a concert, learn a piece by a composer from the country in question or improvise upon traditional tunes from that country. This album offers an original, thrilling programme assembled in the course of Cyprien’s many trips and constituting a veritable musical journey through Europe. This alternates between celebrated works – the Brahms and Dvořák Dances, all played with his personal touch, or the Blue Danube as paraphrased by Eduard Schütt, Albéniz’s Tango and Sibelius’ own transcription of Finlandia – and a number of magnificent shorter pieces in which Cyprien Katsaris introduces us to such composers as the Estonian Heino Eller, the Icelandic Jón Leifs, the Greek Grigoris Constantinidis and his own Cypriot compatriot Nicolas Economou.
This double CD features works both famous and lesser-known by five composers who had direct or indirect links in Vienna: Beethoven, Schubert, Hüttenbrenner, Diabelli and Liszt. Beethoven completed his Sonata Pathétique shortly after the birth of Schubert, who was 20 years old when he composed his 13 Variations on a surprising theme by Hüttenbrenner which in turn echoes the famous second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7, here presented in Liszt’s transcription. All five musicians composed various dances during this period in Vienna, including Waltz, S. 208a composed by Liszt in 1823 during his studies in Vienna and Beethoven’s Second Contradance which features the first appearance of the famous theme of the finale of the Eroica Symphony. Here also are the first-ever versions recorded anywhere of three works: Reinecke’s piano transcription of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, the manuscript of which Schubert had given to Hüttenbrenner; then, from Hüttenbrenner himself – a composer lapsed into undeserved obscurity – two funeral tributes to his friends Beethoven and Schubert, the magnificent Variations op. 2 and the waltzes based on Schubert’s Erlkönig. The omnipresent Liszt offers us his own astonishing transcriptions of the Erlkönig and the Young Nun. Then we have the Viennese composer and publisher Anton Diabelli, best known for his Sonatinas, who requested fifty composers to write variations on his own Waltz: those of Hüttenbrenner, Schubert, Liszt (who was 11 years old) and four of Beethoven’s 33 Variations op. 120 feature in this recording.
In the 19th century it was customary for concertos to be performed publicly in four different versions, designed for both salons and concert halls. This double CD features the first-ever offering world première recording of the four versions of Chopin’s Concerto no. 2 in F minor, op. 21: 1. For piano and orchestra, with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edvard Tchivzhel. 2. For solo piano: Chopin’s own arrangement. 3. For piano and string quintet, with the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra Quintet, in the arrangement by pianist David Lively, versions by contemporaries of Chopin not having survived. 4. For two pianos, where the second instrument plays transcriptions of the orchestral parts: Chopin’s own score for the tutti; that of his friend Jules Fontana for the accompaniment to the 2nd and 3rd movements and that of the publishers of the National Edition of the Works of Frédéric Chopin, Jan Ekier and Paweł Kamiński, for the accompaniment to the 1st movement.
Frédéric Chopin is a composer to whom Cyprien Katsaris has returned time and again throughout his career, notably with his recordings of the complete Sonatas, Ballades, Preludes, Waltzes, Scherzos and Polonaises and with his memorable “Homage to Chopin” recital at the Carnegie Hall on 17 October 1999, the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. There have also been numerous concerts in which the Franco-Polish composer’s works have featured. This new recording bears witness to Cyprien Katsaris’ devotion to the prodigious pianist and composer. Distilled from various recitals, the programme comprises a set of universally loved pieces garnished with lesser-known compositions and some rare transcriptions.
Franz Liszt was arguably the most diverse of all composers in the range of his musical creativity. The double CD in this first volume offers us five aspects of Liszt, all equally fascinating:
A) The Gypsy, with its immensely popular Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 (Liszt’s cadenzas) and the no less beautiful Rhapsodies nos. 3, 5 and 7.
B) The Romantic, with its sublime Love Dream no. 3, its lyrical Elegies and Klavierstücke, along with the noble and impassioned Concerto no. 2, performed with the splendid Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester under the baton of Arild Remmereit.
C) Revelatory of Liszt’s avant-garde genius are the Prelude and Funeral March, Unstern! - Sinistre and Grey Clouds, with their sometimes bizarre, atonal harmonies prefiguring Scriabin, Debussy and Schoenberg.
D) The composer’s funeral homage to his friend and son-in-law Wagner is represented by the two Mournful Gondolas, R. W. Venezia and At the Grave of Richard Wagner.
E) Lastly we come to Liszt the philosopher and the greatest of his masterpieces, the Sonata in B minor, wherein we apprehend the creation of the universe and the destiny of man. The first two notes express the beginning of creation, by God or spiritual powers, according to one’s beliefs. These first two Gs represent the first and second particles of matter, and the descending scale that follows gives continuity to this matter which acquires movement, simultaneously creating space and time. Then follow great leaps on both hands, an explosion, a Big Bang, akin to the origin of the universe which in turn engenders life itself. Following on comes the Sonata, symbolising the universe and its development, its complexity, but also the human race and its destiny, its emotions, conflicts, revolutions and moments of fulfilment. The work ends, in its final, sublime chords, in a reaching-out to immortality through the liberation of the spirit, the soul set free from the trammels of the physical universe. In this final moment of transcendence, it feels as though Liszt is offering magisterial guidance in courage and hope.
This recording brings together two major works from the history of romantic chamber music. It embraces Robert Schumann, the composer, Clara, his transcriber and indefatigable performer of his work, and Johannes Brahms, their intimate friend, revisiting in these piano arrangements their masterpieces: Schumann’s Quintet op. 44 and Brahms’ Quintet op. 34. Whereas we may already be familiar with the Sonata in F minor, the two-piano version of Brahms’ Quintet for piano and strings, the four-handed version of Robert Schumann’s Quintet may prove to be a discovery. Arranged by Clara Schumann just after the composer’s death, this work bears witness to the importance in the 19th century of the practice of four-hand piano works as a driver of musical progress.
Cyprien Katsaris recorded the music for the Danish film Allegro. Directed by Christoffer Boe, winner of Golden Camera Award (Caméra d’Or) for Reconstruction (2003), it features Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen and international top model Helena Christensen in the lead. The soundtrack consists exclusively of music by Johann Sebastian Bach: pieces for solo piano but also movements from concertos, which Cyprien Katsaris recorded with the South West German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim conducted by Sebastian Tewinkel.