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Piano Rarities - Vol. 3: Transcriptions
see end of review for track listing
Cyprien Katsaris (piano)
rec. March 2009, Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Heidelberg, Germany
PIANO 21 P21 045-N [79:37]

Cyprien Katsaris turns his boundlessly curious mind, and fingers, to rare transcriptions of various Slavic masterworks. The programme falls into two halves: the Khachaturian half, and the everybody-else one. All are played extremely well and all are very enjoyable.
 
The Khachaturian half comes first, and includes such hits as the Sabre Dance. This is in a transcription which makes this far more plausible on solo piano than I ever imagined possible. Then there’s the heartrending Adagio from Gayaneh, and the famous Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia. These are all done with poetry - the Sabre Dance is the only clip that’s brash or over-the-top - and a real sensitive feel for how best to translate this music onto the piano. Thus, though Spartacus and Phrygia’s great love theme may be faster than usual, the instrument’s sustaining ability means that there is really very little emotion lost.
 
What comes after this half is two big Rachmaninov chunks - the second suite for two pianos, here reduced to one with flair and virtuosity that borders on the impossible, and a surprisingly good reduction of the Second Symphony’s adagio - and a bunch of miniatures. One of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances left me dying to hear more of them, and we round out with a series of song transcriptions which serve as encores. If you’re like me you’ll be agape at the poetry of Karlowicz’s song “Dla zasmuconej” (“To a grieving maiden”). Dvořák’s “Songs my mother taught me” also makes an affecting appearance.
 
The transcriptions range from incredibly effective (Blumenfeld’s Borodin) to simply jaw-dropping: Vladimir Leyetchkiss’s Rachmaninov suite, which I could swear still is being played by two pianists. Cyprien Katsaris presides over it all with commanding authority, and the sound, close up, reminds me of Hyperion’s engineering, with one exception: track 15 (Karlowicz) sounds like it’s from another session.
 
For my fellow pianophiles I can give this the highest praise. For those who aren’t pianophiles: this album is one of the reasons why we exist.
 
Brian Reinhart 

Track listing
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Valse from “Masquerade” (Lev Soline/Cyprien Katsaris) [4:53]
Sabre Dance from “Gayaneh” (Lev Soline/Cyprien Katsaris) [3:18]
Gayaneh’s Adagio (Alec Rowley) [3:41]
Lullaby from “Gayaneh” (Oscar Levant) [5:45]
Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia (Emin Khachaturian) [7:31]
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
Polovtsian Dance No. 17 from “Prince Igor” (Felix Blumenfeld) [2:47]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Suite for two pianos No. 2, Op 17 (Vladimir Leyetchkiss) [23:48]
Adagio from Symphony No. 2 (Georg Kirkor) [13:03]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
At the ball, Op. 38 No. 3 (Earl Wild) [2:36]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Songs my mother taught me, Op. 55 No. 4 (Eduard Schütt) [3:40]
Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (1819-1872)
O matjo moja (Michal Marian Biernacki) [2:20]
Mieczyslaw KARLOWICZ (1876-1909)
Dla zasmuconej (Karol A. Penson) [2:29]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8 (Karol A. Penson) [2:42]


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