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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Piano Special Feature Sept. 20, 2012

A special feature today, we played a significant chunk of this significant piano release in the 11AM hour.   Part of a series of Gioacchino Rossini's piano pieces from late in his life that he referred to as "the sins of my old age."

ROSSINI: Calesthenics
"Gymnastique d'Ecartement"
Paolo Giacometti,
Erard Piano 1837
Channel Classics 20504
ISBN# 7 23385 20504 3

2001 Recipient of the EDISON AWARD for Best Dutch performing artist, Giacometti has made a series of these recordings of Rossini's works, of which this is volume 5.   This CD takes its title from the first work in the "Album de Chaumiere", which is called Calesthenics and indeed is a workout for even the most accomplished of pianists, with very awkward runs that make musical sense only when played very quickly.  For full disclosure, some of these pieces are quite repetitive and have a feeling of intermediate etudes (which may be why the entire set has almost never been recorded like this)... but as soon as you find yourself thinking that, the next piece will have an exquisite melody that one expects of Rossini, or tremendous variation and highly technical passages that require a virtuoso.

This CD also demonstrates a larger trend in the record industry.  While we can appreciate having a recording of works that are rarely even heard in recital (much less recorded), in my interviews with artisits, I have heard several times that labels are requiring that the recording must mine new territory, with an additional  preference for the entire set being recorded. This is why so often recordings now are either entirely new compositions (in addition to no copyright/licensing fees for new works), or groupings (like this) of rarely recorded works, or transcriptions of sets to a new instrument.

Fortunately for us, when the composer is a great one like Rossini, and the performer one of the calibre of Giacometti, it is an... um... EXERCISE in pure delight.

Kara Dahl Russell

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