ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
CÉCILE CHAMINADE - Piano Works


CÉCILE CHAMINADE - Piano Works - Johann Blanchard (Piano) - 1901 Steinway Concert Grand - 760623187167 - Released: February 2015 - MDG 9041871-6

1} Sonata in C minor, Op. 21
2} Etude symphonique op. 28
3} Etudes de concert op. 35
- Scherzo. Allegro
- Automne. Lento
- Fileuse. Allegro
- Impromptu. Andante
- Tarantelle. Allegro vivace
4} Etude mélodique op. 118
5} Etude pathétique op. 124
6} Etude romantique op. 132
7} Etude humoristique op. 138
8} Etude scolastique op. 139
9} Souvenir d'enfance (World première recording)

With this, his first recording as a soloist on MDG, pianist Johann Blanchard endeavours to enhance Cécile Chaminade's (1857-1944) presence in the public eye. And I believe all the cards are stacked in his favor. Not that Chaminade (who enjoyed a high level of fame during her lifetime) has been completely ignored since then, but quite simply overshadowed by all the other big name, and let's face it, male composers of her generation. At that time, women were not allowed access to the conservatory, but she pursued private studies in composition under composer Benjamin Godard, which may begin to explain why some critics have defined some of her lighter pieces (Fileuse for example) as "salon music". But some of her more elaborate works, like the excellent Sonata in C minor, Op. 21 and the Etude Symphonique Op. 28 could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with anything dished out by her famous contemporaries. If you were to submit a blindfolded listening test on anyone, I can guarantee they would blurt out many famous names before guessing Chaminade. Her Sonata for example blends the ambiguous naïveté of Schumann with the romantic zeal of Liszt, and a soupçon of Brahms.

A pianist of many varied interests, Johann Blanchard has already performed, as a soloist and/or chamber ensemble member, on many of the world's top concert stages. He brings a certain charm and noblesse to this music, but first and foremost reveals its substantial virtuosity and range of masterful and authoritative pianistic brilliance. The instrument used in this recording, a 1901 Steinway Concert Grand Piano D, with its broad tonal palette, could not have been better matched to this music. If you've passed on giving this composer a listen before, thinking it may be light fare, this new recording should easily convince you otherwise.

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2015