Cecile Chaminade: Piano Music
Label: PIANO CLASSICS
Welcoming Mark Viner’s Piano Classics album of opera fantasies by Sigismond Thalberg (PCL0092), Gramophone wrote: ‘A quite exceptional album from a blazing young British talent.’ Viner has now made his own selection from the hundreds of piano pieces, some light, others more serious, composed by Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944). Periodically revived in tokenistic ways, Chaminade’s output is now being seen in the round, and it reveals a voice of not only feminine delicacy and charm, but also a melodist of refinement whose gift for a well-turned tune never left her in a career spanning over six decades. The Pierrette, air de ballet Op.41 may be an attractive trifle, but the Six Etudes de concert present a stiffer challenge for the pianist: the first of them, ‘Automne’, was one of her best-loved pieces at a time when her music was ubiquitous in the smart salons of Europe. The brief Les Sylvains gives the impression of having been conceived at a single sitting, so engaging is its suggestive portrait of wood-nymphs. Once described as ‘nearly a genius who knew what and how to write for pianists of moderate ability,’ Chaminade produced countless miniatures of gentle pleasures such as La Lisonjera Op.50, the Arabesque Op.61 and the Songs without Words Op.76. However, the four-movement Poème provençal Op.127 is far more substantial: ‘among Chaminade’s most inspired final productions’ according to Viner in his invaluable booklet essay. His survey concludes with the scintillating Thème varié Op.89 which, like several other works on this album has previously received very few recordings.