Edouard Risler was one of the great pianists of France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His repertoire ranged from Bach and the French baroque composers, through the works of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt, to his own transcriptions of the tone poems of Richard Strauss.
Along with Cortot, he was a student of Diemer at the Paris Conservatory, beingawarded the first prize in 1889. Cortot won it in 1896 and had this to say about Risler's playing: "I immediately felt myself engulfed by the music; it was not just a matter of what he was playing, but also his charm, his faculty to reveal, to communicate the incommunicable. His unique way of making music overwhelmed me, it entered into me, into my very flesh. Risler presented to me a magical world which previously I had only known as an onlooker. He opened my soul to the appreciation of a music that was born of spontaneous inspiration. His feeling for orchestral colour was something that I had never associated with the piano. From that moment I understood how the vocation of the interpreter could transcend the metier of the pianist, I knew... I could see... I believed, and I was clear in my vision." He also studies with Eugen d'Albert, a pupil of Liszt.
Edouard Risler concertized extensively and was know for major recital cycles including the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, the complete works of Chopin, and Bach's Well Tempered Clavier.
His circle of friends included some of the most important composers of the day, Gabriel Fauré, Reynaldo Hahn, Emmanuel Chabrier, and Enrique Granados of whose works he was at times the dedicatee and gave the premieres.
The recordings you will hear below were made in 1917, and the sound is not terribly good. But you will hear a wonderful pianist, one whose interpretive style cannot easily be confused with that of others of his era. I would like to single out his recording of the Granados Spanish Dance, and absolute gem of a performance of this minor masterpiece.
Couperin (ed. Diemer) "Le tic toc choc" or "Les Maillotins"
Rameau "Le Tambourin"
Rameau "Le rappel des oiseaux"
Daquin "Le coucou"
Beethoven Piano Sonata 12 in A♭ major, Op 26
iv Allegro, Rondo
Beethoven Piano Sonata 18 in E♭ major, Op 31 ~3
ii Scherzo: Allegretto vivace
Beethoven version for piano solo of the Adagio from Piano Concerto 4, Op 58
Weber "Invitation à la dance", Op 65
Mendelssohn Scherzo in E minor, Op 16 ~2
Chopin Mazurka in A minor, Op 17 ~4
Chopin Nocturne in F♯ major, Op 15 ~2
If you would like to compare Risler's playing of this nocturne to that of some of the other of the greats of his time . . .
1 Raoul Pugno (1903) - (03:31) 2 Eugen D'Albert (1916)
(06:37) 3 Edouard Risler (1917) - (10:03) 4 Ignace Jan Paderewski (1917)
(13:53) 5 Ferruccio Busoni (1922) - (17:24) 6 Josef Hofmann (1923)
(21:22) 7 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1923) - (25:06) 8 Leopold Godowsky (1928)
Chopin Étude in G♭ major Op 10 ~5 "Black Key"
Chopin Waltz 7 in C♯ minor, Op 64 ~2
Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody 11 in A minor
Saint-Saëns Valse nonchalante, Op 110
Chabrier 6 Idylle from Dix pieces
Godard Mazurka 2
Granados Danza espanola in G major, Op 37 ~2
For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background
which is also available as an audiobook.
And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:
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