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Kalkbrenner: 25 Grandes Etudes de Style et de Perfectionnement, Op.143

By Friedrich Wilhelm Kalkbrenner

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Composed by Friedrich Wilhelm Kalkbrenner. Classical. CD. Naxos #PCL10190. Published by Naxos (NX.PCL10190).

Item Number: NX.PCL10190

By the early 1830s, the celebrated virtuoso Friedrich Wilhelm Michael Kalkbrenner was at the height of his pianistic powers. It was at this time that Chopin moved to Paris and found Kalkbrenner to be the finest pianist he had heard: 'Herz, Liszt and Hiller are all zeros next to Kalkbrenner.' The Etudes Op. 143 show an extraordinarily mature and creative side to Kalkbrenner's ability as a composer, despite having been largely neglected. They were conceived at the same time as Chopin's 12 Etudes op 10 and a number of important similarities can be discovered through the study of both sets. These 25 character pieces are as musically concise as they are technically useful and the rich variety of characters and colours provide us with one of the most interesting and contrasting sets of studies in the piano literature. As well as showpiece demonstrations of Kalkbrenner's own stupendous technique, such as the ascending and descending broken octaves of No.1 and the evocation of a storm at sea in the Fifth, there are several more subtle musical tone-paintings. No.6 has the warmest and most intimate melody in the collection, clearly influenced by operatic writing. No.13 has a haunting, magical texture of rippling quick notes accompanying a melody line pitched as if for a lyrical cello. Such variety of ideas makes the collection as richly satisfying to listen to as it is challenging to play, culminating in a tarantella loosely based on a theme from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Born in 1994, the British pianist Tyler Hay has made a speciality of such prodigiously demanding but little-known Romantic repertoire, and he contributes his own, illuminating booklet notes to this new recording. His previous albums for Piano Classics have met with wide acclaim. 'Tyler Hay is a formidable pianist, and I will look forward to more fine recordings from him. Piano and Ogdon enthusiasts will not want to risk missing it.' (Ogdon, Piano music, PCL10132, Fanfare magazine).

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