I do not have very many piano compositions by dAlbert the composer to share with you, but what I do have should give you a very good idea of the man's worth. He was one of the few musicians well respected by both the Wagnerites and Brahmsians, and in his music for piano is much that can be said to be a continuation of the work of Beethoven, of whose music he was a fervent exponent as a pianist, as well as Bach and Brahms. I will continue to search for more examples because the Scherzo Op 16 has certainly remained quite popular, his chamber music is reported to be first rate, and his operatic and orchestral music cannot be ignored.
Of the works for piano you will hear below, the Sonata in F sharp minor Opus 10 is a masterpiece. Why it is not performed is a mystery. The first movement - the only movement I can find to share with you - builds on Brahms' piano sonatas. The second gives us an idea of what Beethoven might have done had he had more time. And the final movement is a monumental triple fugue - yes with three subjects that are eventually combined in a contrapuntal tour de force. dAlbert the composer, indeed! It could be said to be a tribute to the three pillars of German classical music, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
Piano Concerto 1 in B minor, Op 2
Joseph Banowetz, American pianist (b 1936)
Dmitry Yablonsky conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Klavierstücke, Op 5
Koji Attwood, contemporary American pianist
1 Sehr leidenschaftlich bewegt
2 Sehr ruhig und ausdrucksvoll
4 Anmutig bewegt
5 Etwas langsam
7 Mässig, doch nicht zu langsam
8 Belebt, doch nicht zu schnell
Piano Sonata in F♯ minor, Op 10
Araceli Fernández Béiztegui, contemporary Spanish pianist
Piano Concerto 2 in E major, Op 12
Michael Ponti, American pianist (b 1937)
Pierre Cao conducting the Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg
Karl-Andreas Kolly, Swiss pianist (b 1965)
Ronald Zollman conducting l'Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona (i Nacional de Catalunya)
Scherzo in F♯ minor, Op 16~2
Eugen d'Albert, piano (rec 1912)
Earl Wild, American pianist (1915-2010) rec 1969
Rudolph Ganz, Swiss-born American pianist (1877-1972)
ca1920s Duo Art piano roll
Eileen Joyce, Australian pianist (1908-1991)
recorded in 1938
Handel-d'Albert Chaconne in G major, HWV 435
Eugen d'Albert, piano (1914-1995)
ca1910 Triphonola piano roll
Annie Fischer, Hungarian pianist (1914-1995)
Romance for piano and cello
Emile Naoumoff, French pianist (b 1962)
Alain Meunier, cello
recorded in 2011
To follow the taste of Eugen d'Albert's writing for cello in the preceding work, I would like to offer this cello concerto by dAlbert the composer. That this work is not in the active cello repertoire seems to me a great shame. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, gorgeous. The orchestral writing is splendid, and while I understand that d'Albert's music might have suffered from being in the shadow of the likes of the more forward looking Mahler, Richard Strauss, Sibelius and Nielsen, his work is certainly more appealing to me than that of Humperdinck and Pfitzner.
d'Albert Cello Concerto in C major, Op 20
i Allegro moderato
09:07 ii Andante con moto
17:15 iii Allegro vivace
Antonio Meneses, cello
Ronald Zollman conducting the Basle Symphony Orchestra
One of d'Albert's Operas, Tiefland (1903), is still very deservedly in the operatic repertoire in Germany. It is a beautiful opera, with lush Orchestration and gorgeous arias, in the post-Wagerian tradition of Hans Pfitzner and Engelbert Humperdinck. I include the complete opera in order to distinguish dAlbert the composer from the many pianists whose fruit of lesser compositional value has faded away. This is the work of a serious composer whose music, were we able to hear more of it, might be judged to be of considerably greater import.
The following recording is performed by Richard Salter as Sabastiano and Carole Enkelmann as Martha with Thomas Kalb conducting the chorus and orchestra of the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz.
This is preceded by two 1928 recordings of d'Albert conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in the Overture and the Entr'acte.
Before abandoning his British roots at the age of seventeen in the pursuit of more Teutonic climes, dAlbert the composer studied for five years at the National Training School for Music (an institution that was eventually to become the Royal College of Music) in London where his teachers included Ebenezer Prout, John Stainer and Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. In the context of what you have just heard, it may be difficult to believe that he is generally given credit for having written the overture to Gilbert and Sullivan's 1881 operetta, Patience. I do have said overture by dAlbert the composer to offer you below prior to the beginning of Act I, but in order that you might appreciate this most absurd of ironies, here is "Prithee, Pretty Maiden" from the same operetta as sung in the Eastman School of Music 1999 production by Ryan Power as Grosvenor and Marion Russell as Patience.
Overture and Act I of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience
The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
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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