SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
LISZT, CHOPIN, PIXIS, THALBERG, HERZ and CZERNY: “Hexaméron” – solo pieces by the above named composers plus Leon Buche – Johann Blanchard, Leon Buche, Carlos Goicoechea, Caroline Sorieux, Kanako Yoshikane and Clauius Tanski, piano(s) – MD&G
Published on October 24, 2013
LISZT, CHOPIN, PIXIS, THALBERG, HERZ and CZERNY: “Hexaméron” – solo pieces by the above named composers plus Leon Buche – Johann Blanchard, Leon Buche, Carlos Goicoechea, Caroline Sorieux, Kanako Yoshikane and Clauius Tanski, piano(s) – Musikproduction Dabringhaus und Grimm multichannel (2+2+2) SACD MDG 904 1803-6 (Distr. by E1), 70:18 [5/21/13] *****:
Written in 1837, the 22-minute Hexaméron was created by six composers for a grand charity concert in Paris which never took place. It is a set of variations based on the “March of the Huguenots” from Act 2 of Bellini’s I puritani.
Franz Liszt was the linchpin for this creation, providing the introduction, the piano arrangement of the march theme, passages linking the variations (by Frédéric Chopin, Johann Peter Pixis, Sigismond Thalberg, Henri Herz and Carl Czerny) and the finale. With the exception of Czerny, who was just visiting, all of the other virtuoso pianists/composers were residing in Paris and, significantly, none were born in France.
Here, in one place, you can sample the compositional skills of some familiar and unfamiliar 19th century piano composers. To add to this glimpse back in time, other pieces by these six are provided on this disc.
Chopin is represented by the felicitous Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4 and the intoxicating Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1. Liszt’s Funérailles is the seventh of his Harmonies poetiques et religieuses. And that is all of the familiar works.
Peter Pixis’ occasional work, a Waltz in A-flat major, was composed for a young lady in London. His contribution to Hexaméron seemed to intrigue Liszt who quotes the Pixis variation note for note in the finale. Sigismond Thalberg’s Nocturne, Op. 28 reveals his skill as a dashing composer. He was a concert hall rival of Liszt’s. Both seem to have possessed of equal prowess at the piano.
Henri Herz’s La Valse suisse (Rondo dal “Gugielmo Tell” by Rossini) is one of his six compositions on the Rossini operatic masterpiece. Carl Czerny was a pupil of Beethoven and he was a teacher of Liszt. And rounding out these rarely heard pieces is Czerny’s classically framed Variationen uber den Sehnsuchts-walzer, Op. 9 No. 2, von Franz Schubert, Op. 12.
Pianist Claudius Tanski is the spirit moving this remarkable SACD. MD&G has provided demonstration quality sound. This disc also is in MD&G’s 2+2+2 recording process. I did not audition that option due to the difficult setting up the additional speakers.
The other pianists are students of Taski and they perform the variations and the other compositions. Also, at the end of the disc one of the pianists, Leon Buche, has composed Hexaméron over the clouds which acts as a short coda to this varied collection. It is performed by the composer. This music displays some of the most difficult piano effects imaginable. If ever there was a need for virtuoso pianists, this music is it.
What does Hexaméron refer to or mean? It originally referred to the six days of the creation. Here it simply refers to the composition by Liszt and friends. This SACD has the highest recommendation for musical interest, performance and sound.