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Anna & Ines Walachowski Brahms - Faure - Tchaikovsky - Moniuszko OC 746 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 746
Barcode4260034867468
labelOehmsClassics
Release date06/01/2010
salesrank4553
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Brahms, Johannes
  • Fauré, Gabriel
  • Moniuszko, Stanislaw
  • Tchaikovsky, Piotr Ilyich

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      Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dances no. 2,3,5,7,8,11,20,21
      Gabriel Fauré: “Dolly” Suite op. 56
      Peter Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty op. 66, arrangement by Sergei Rachmaninov
      Stanislaw Moniuszko: Contredanses
      Piano duo Anna & Ines Walachowski

      The Walachowski piano duo plays arrangements and original works for piano duo on their second CD for OehmsClassics. The former include Sergey Rachmaninov’s arrangement of Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet music “Sleeping Beauty”. However, Tchaikovsky was by no means satisfied with the first version of the transcription by the just 18-year-old Rachmaninov, with the result that he asked Alexander Siloti to complete it and also made amendments to it himself. In contrast, Brahms’ Hungarian Dances are indeed original works which the composer did not arrange for orchestra and for solo piano until later. The CD includes a rarity: the six Contredanses by Stanislav Moniuszko, the founder of the Polish National Opera. Moniuszko was born in 1819 in Ubiel, Belarus, and died in Warsaw in 1872.

      A creative workshop

      The piano duo genre: Brahms, Fauré, Tchaikovsky, Moniuszko

      Eduard Hanslick considered music for piano four hands to be “the most intimate, most comfortable and – within its limits – the most complete form of domestic music-making”. In addition, arrangements for this combination provided the “best possible knowledge of orchestra literature that could be had in one’s own living room”. These two thoughts by the famous Viennese reviewer reflect the primary motivation and leitmotif in the development of music for piano four-hands – whether played on one or on two pianos. As a rule, works for two pianos four-hands have larger formal dimensions than those written for one piano four-hands. Two instruments naturally open up many more opportunities for expression and performance, not only because of the expanded range and sonority made possible by two pianos.

      At the same time, both types of piano duo have the same experimental potential that Hanslick mentions. As a matter of fact, the piano duo became a significant creative “workshop” for many composers, especially for Hanslick’s friend Johannes Brahms. The arrangements of his third and fourth symphonies for four hands are profound proof of the relationship between piano and orchestral versions. Brahms originally planned his Piano Concerto No. 1 as a sonata for two pianos, and the original version of the Hungarian Dances was written for two pianos four-hands.

      The 21 dances were published in two parts. Dances 1–10 were released in 1869; dances 11–21 followed in 1880. At the time of their composition, character pieces with a folk music character were exceptionally popular. The first edition of the Hungarian Dances contains the note “Arranged by Johannes Brahms”, certainly due to the fact that Brahms based the dances on folk-like melodies. These, however, tend rather to be allusions that trigger associations rather than direct quotes. Brahms did not use original folksongs of the Hungarian Roma; only later did Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók tap authentic Hungarian folklore for use in classical music.

      The orchestral versions as well as the arrangements for solo piano followed in 1872/73. Brahms’ friend and famous violinist Joseph Joachim also created a complete version of the Hungarian Dances for violin and piano. Last but not least, it was Brahms who took Hanslick’s above-mentioned remarks to heart and reduced many of his large orchestral scores for piano four hands. In his younger years, he had created opera arrangements under the pseudonym of G.W. Marks: works which became an essential part of the piano duo genre. The suite from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty found here on this CD is one such arrangement.

      The premiere of this ballet took place in mid-January 1890 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg; it follows the well-known fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Tchaikovsky wrote his own orchestral suite based on the ballet as well; this was later arranged by Sergei Rachmaninoff for piano duo. The latter work came about in 1890 at the recommendation of major pianist Alexander Ilyitch Siloti (one of Rachmaninoff’s cousins) for Tchaikovsky’s publisher Peter Jürgenson. This was Rachmaninoff’s first commissioned work – and it almost earned him serious trouble.

      When Tchaikovsky studied the finished score in June 1890, he found fault with its technically correct but – in his opinion – scholarly and pedestrian outcome. Siloti then personally took over completion of the transcription. In contrast, the “Dolly”-Suite op. 56 by Gabriel Fauré – just as the Hungarian Dances by Brahms – is an original composition. Fauré composed the work in 1893/96 for Hélène Bardac, who was known as “Dolly” due to her small size. She was the daughter of Emma Bardac, a friend of Fauré’s who would later become Claude Debussy’s wife.

      The introductory Berceuse was also published separately and harks back to Fauré’s early work Chanson dans le jardin from 1863. References to his Violin Sonata in A Major can also be heard in the third piece. On the other hand, it was the publisher who added the “kitty cat” subtitles Mi-a-ou and Kitty-Valse to the second and fourth pieces. In 1906, Henri Rabaud wrote an orchestral version of the “Dolly”-Suite; Louis Laloy followed in 1913 with a ballet and Roy Howat wrote an arrangement for solo piano.

      Finally, the six Contredanses by Stanislaw Moniuszko are very special rarities. Born in 1819 in Ubiel, Byelorussia, Moniuszko died in 1872 in Warsaw and is considered to be the founder of Polish national opera. He and Frédéric Chopin are the primary representatives of the Polish romantic period. Moniuszko’s Manual of Harmony appeared in 1871; his opera Halka became especially popular. Many of Moniuszko’s operas and cantatas were banned at the time or changes made to their texts due to the fact that Warsaw was then under the jurisdiction of the Russian czars. This is also a reason why Moniuszko was stylized as a pioneer of socialism after 1945. Today, his works are only little known in the west despite the fact that they make a valuable contribution to the literature. The Contredanses prove this.

      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
        Hungarian Dances
        for piano four-hands
        • 1.No. 2 D minor (Allegro non assai)03:31
        • 2.No. 3 F major (Allegretto)02:00
        • 3.Nr. 5 F-sharp minor (Allegro)02:25
        • 4.No. 7 A major (Allegretto)01:27
        • 5.No. 8 A minor (Presto)02:42
        • 6.No. 11 D minor (Poco andante)03:16
        • 7.No. 20 E minor (Poco allegretto)02:19
        • 8.No. 21 E minor (Vivace)01:33
      • Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)
        “Dolly” Suite op. 56
        Six pièces pour piano à 4 mains
        • 9.Berceuse02:55
        • 10.Mi-a-ou01:58
        • 11.Le Jardin de Dolly02:53
        • 12.Kitty Valse02:11
        • 13.Tendresse03:40
        • 14.Introduction. La fée des lilas04:56
        • 14.Le Pas Espagnole02:05
      • Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
        The Sleeping Beauty op. 66
        Arrangement for piano four-hands by Sergei Rachmaninov
        • 15.Adagio. Pas d’action05:03
        • 16.Pas de caractère01:23
        • 17.Panorama03:46
        • 18.Valse04:00
      • Stanislaw Moniuszko (1819–1872)
        • 19.Contredanse Figura 101:16
        • 20.Contredanse Figura 200:54
        • 21.Contredanse Figura 301:29
        • 22.Contredanse Figura 400:58
        • 23.Contredanse Figura 503:07
        • 24.Contredanse Figura 602:41
      • Total:01:04:28