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Reine Gianoli (piano)
Recitals in France 1962-1966
MELOCLASSIC MC1044 [78:36 + 79:15]

Born Jeanne Reinette van Amerongen (her mother remarried, and the girl took her stepfather’s surname) Reine Gianoli studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Gabrielle Giraud-Latarse, about whose teaching and pianism Gianoli wrote with great admiration. Her teacher valued the Russian school more than the clarity-conscious French but when Gianoli was admitted to the class of Lazare-Lévy things didn’t work so well and she transferred to study with Cortot. In the booklet there is an extensive and valuable analysis of his teaching by Gianoli. She began to perform prestigious engagements by the mid-30s – a duo recital with Enescu, a concerto performance with Weingartner of the Rimsky-Korsakov Concerto – and she remained busy through the war years and beyond. She performed concertos with Edwin Fischer, recorded four 78s in 1947 for a small French label, but fortunately recorded many more LPs for Westminster – though her career was centred on Europe and she never seems to have toured America.

This twofer captures her in French radio recitals in 1962 and 1966. Her Schumann F sharp minor sonata comes from a July 1962 Dieppe broadcast. It’s much better recorded than the performance by Rosl Schmid in another Meloclassic release (MC 1048), and well though Gianoli plays it, it’s Schmid who sculpts the music rather more convincingly and vests it with a degree more expressive tension. Her December recital comes from RTF, Paris and offers a spread of her repertoire. Starting with Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor it takes in Beethoven’s Op.31/3 sonata in E flat major – a fluent, stylish reading with a fierily dispatched finale. There’s also Schubert’s Impromptu in A flat major and a dexterous, imposing Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.9.

Her 80-minute February 1966 recital from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées was recorded by ORTF. It too opens with Bach, in this case the Bach-Busoni Chaconne, which is strong in conception but subject to digital frailties. Schubert’s Sonata in A, K664 has charm and wit and a sure awareness of the music’s vitality and brio; compare and contrast with Richter’s dreary slog. The Brahms’ Rhapsody in G minor is inconsistent, and somewhat poorly balanced and there is a pendant of a Scarlatti sonata – maybe it reminds one a little of Marcelle Meyer. Before that, though, is the little business of Chopin’s Preludes, Op.28. Given her lineage one should expect something interesting and there’s no disappointment in that respect. The opening Prelude has a great deal of rubato and whether it’s agitato is best left to individual listeners. The following Lento’s rocking rhythm is a touch overdone but from here on things improve significantly. The Largo in E minor is beautiful, the desynchronous chording of the Lento assai and No.14, the Allegro in E flat minor, in particular, redolent of her musical heritage. The Raindrop is powerful and moving, the Presto (No.16) clear and dramatic, and her powerfully vertical chording, deep and rich, in the Largo worthy of note.

Meloclassic’s presentation is classy, with fine notes, well reproduced photographs and a gatefold format. The sound quality is unproblematic and to a high standard. Gianoli is a valuable addition to this roster of discs. On this evidence she was somewhat inconsistent as an interpreter but at her best an artist of probity and emotional candour and capable of witty characterisation.

Jonathan Woolf

BACH: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903[12:50]
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 18 in E-flat Major, Op 31/3 [21:51]
SCHUBERT: Impromptu in A-flat Major, Op 90/4, D 899 [7:26]
LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No 9, HS 244/9 [6:32]
rec. 19 December 1962, Paris, Studio RTF Studio Recording
SCHUMANN: Piano Sonata No 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op 11 [29:54]
Recorded · 24 July 1962 · Dieppe · Grand casino · RTF · Live Recording
BACH/BUSONI: Chaconne in D Minor BWV 1004 [14:27]
SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in A Major D 664, Op posth 120 [19:19]
BRAHMS: Rhapsody in G Minor, Op 79/2 [6:56]
CHOPIN: 24 Préludes, Op 28 [35:50]
SCARLATTI: Sonata in C Major K 159 [2:42]
rec. 28 February 1966, Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, ORTF Live Recording

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