A Schubert Fantasy

From the Album Notes:

1997 commemorated the 200th anniversary of Franz Schubert’s birth. In his short life of thirty-one years he composed numerous songs, dances, chamber works, operas, masses, and nine symphonies. Anyone who has listened to his music cannot help but be impressed by his gift for melodic invention. Unlike his contemporary, Ludwig van Beethoven, whose instrumental works display a very clear musical blueprint, Schubert’s works live for the musical moment, carried aloft by melodic beauty and harmonic riches. The selections presented here are based upon traditional classical forms but are united in their fantasy or improvisational nature.

Complete Album Notes


An American Piano Odyssey

12 Tracks — Total Time: 66:30

This album contains a collection of pieces that represents a true odyssey through American piano music. Beginning with Louis Moreau Gottschalk, America’s first musical superstar, then onto Samuel Barber, William Bolcom, Norman Dello Joio, and Benjamin Lees.

Complete Album Notes...


Beethoven Pno. Con. No. 5 in E-flat Major

7 Tracks - Total Time: 56:51

Beethoven finished the Concerto No. 5 for Piano in 1809, and it is his last and most lavish and impressive of [his] piano concertos. It is a wonderful combination of virtuosity and orchestral writing. The concerto has a symphonic structure: the first movement, Allegro, is full of heroic themes and matching rhythmical patterns as well as daring textural sonorities. It is for these reasons that the concerto has been named “The Emperor” evoking Napoleon, although Beethoven was far from one of his admirers. Beethoven himself dedicated the concerto to his patron, Archduke Rudolph, who had received other acknowledgements from the composer such as the famous “Archduke Trio”. An interesting innovation in the first movement (Allegro) involves the replacement of the traditional cadenza with an elaborate coda. The second movement (Adagio un poco mosso) unfolds from an enchanting and beautiful melody. The third movement (Allegro) is a vivid and lively rondo.

I [Hayuta Devir] am honored and actually more than a little excited to invite to the stage the pianist and soloist Walter Hautzig, and the conductor Ilan Schul, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “The Emperor”.

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Americus records wish to thank the Israel Broadcasting Authority for all their help and for making this recording available.

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Recorded November 20, 2006 in Jerusalem, Israel. Cover photo by Ron Hiran. Recording by Motti Arnon; Tone Master Michael Poper; Sound Avi Elbaz. Mastering by Charlie Pilzer of Airshow Mastering. Graphic Design by John DesMarteau.


Chopin

15 Tracks – Total Time: 64:35

Consummate pianist Marianna Rashkovetsky has released her 4th album on the Americus Label, and what a fabulous album it is. A wonderful selection of Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Etudes, and the somewhat neglected and technically difficult Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat Major, Op. 61. This is an album you simply must have if you love Chopin.

From The Album Notes:

My love of playing Chopin’s miniatures surprises me — much as Bach becoming my favorite composer surprises me. During my years of study, I was taught to play, and did play, the so-called grand forms (sonatas, concertos, etc.). But over time, I began to realize that miniatures could be remarkably vibrant and rich. Chopin’s “salon music” is more than simply entertaining, and it is certainly not inconsequential! These works provide a continuing challenge for pianists, sometimes technically, but always interpretively. Many performers return to them throughout their career to find previously undiscovered beauty with each return.

Chopin challenges the listener, too. Although superficially easy to listen to, his miniatures have depth and charm conveyed with shimmering elegance, nuanced melancholy, and an underlying sense of tragedy. For example, the Muzurka in a minor, Op. 17, No. 4, with its major-key fragment is music in the fullest sense. For much of the piece, the music circles in desperation until finally a heartrending cry explodes into the music — perhaps like someone trapped and looking for an escape, and who, when finding none, cries out in despair.

 Complete Album Notes...


Chopin

12 Tracks – Total Time: 67:57

Legendary pianist Walter Hautzig has chosen a wide-ranging selection of some of the works of one of the greatest composers for the piano Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). Mr. Hautzig has had a very long relationship with this music and the result is an intimate portrait of the composer and his interpreter.

Walter Hautzig passed away on January 30, 2017. You can find more about him here.

Complete Album Notes


Chopin - Sonata in B Minor

12 Tracks – Total Time: 75:35

Rather than writing brief passages about the sublime music of Frederick Chopin, I decided to write about my friend and colleague in music—Walter Hautzig—who celebrates his 85th birthday this year. The small amount of space found here allows far fewer words than would be needed to do the music justice. Simply listening to Walter’s wonderful playing is all that is required to forge an intimate connection with Chopin’s music.   

Walter Hautzig was born in 1921 in Vienna, Austria, where he began his musical studies. After several years of private lessons he began to study at the State Academy of Music. The prestige of the academy was such that Emil Sauer, one of the few surviving students of Liszt, was a member of its faculty. In addition, Vienna itself could lay just claim to being the “musical capital of the world”. Fortunately his home life and musical studies provided a shelter from the storm clouds gathering over Europe. On March 12, 1938 they burst forth as Hitler’s army invaded Austria.  Like most of Vienna’s Jews, he began to bear the brunt of the Anschluss—the annexation of Austria to Nazi-controlled Germany.

The choice became clear—stay in Austria and probably perish or leave. Yet what a choice to have to make! It is indeed fortunate for us that Walter made the difficult decision to leave his family behind. After a successful audition with Emil Hauser, the famous violinist and founder of the Budapest Quartet, Walter was able to emigrate with Mr. Hauser’s help to Jerusalem, which at that time was part of Palestine. Once there he continued his studies at the Jerusalem Conservatory where Mr. Hauser was the director and which was the forerunner of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Although many of his family perished in the Holocaust, immediate family members, including his mother and father, survived. After many months the family was reunited in New York City. Soon after arriving in America he met and played for famed pianist Artur Schnabel. And not long after he auditioned and was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where his principal teacher was Mieczyslaw Munz, a student of Busoni. In 1943, when he was 21, the New York music critics voted him outstanding performer of the year for those ages 30 and under for his debut at Town Hall. In 1960 Walter joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he taught for the next 27 years while still continuing to concertize. After leaving Peabody in 1987 he focused on teaching and he continued to tour. In 1979 he was the first American concert artist to perform in China after the normalization of relations with the United States. Walter can truly say that he has delighted audiences in cities and towns from A to Z all over the world. And he has known so many of the world’s other great musicians that he is a treasure trove of wonderful anecdotes about their very interesting lives, which he does not hesitate to relate during his recitals.

In 1996 I met Walter through our mutual good friend and pianist, Eugene Barban. Shortly thereafter Americus Records was formed and our first CD containing Beethoven’s complete works for piano and cello with Walter at the piano was released. On September 29, 2001, Americus was fortunate to be able to participate in Walter’s 80th birthday celebration held in Steinway Hall in New York City. People came from all over the world to join in the festivities. On November 20, 2006, he is scheduled to play Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto in Jerusalem in celebration of his 85th birthday and as a prelude to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance’s 60th anniversary in 2007.

I have had the very good fortune to have had Walter, his lovely and talented wife Esther, their daughter Deborah and son David as the best of friends these last ten years. During this time they have become like family. It is my fondest hope that we will continue to produce wonderful recordings together for many years to come.

John DesMarteau – President, Americus Records, Inc. 

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Recorded February 2006 in Kristiansand, Norway at Sigurd Lie Hall of Agder University College. John R. Bøe is the recording engineer and editor. Charlie Pilzer of Airshow mastered the album. The cover is a pencil drawing of Chopin done by Eliza Radziwill in 1826, the original of which is found in the Polish National Museum in Warsaw. John DesMarteau did the graphic design.


Dances for the Piano

30 Tracks – Total Time: 72:51

When the 29-year old Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) set foot in Vienna in 1862, he surely felt a shiver of excitement to be in the city of his heroes Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The neglected Schubert was a composer especially cherished by Brahms, and within two years, Brahms became the anonymous editor of twelve Schubert Ländler, Op. 171, known today a D 790. Not long after this editorial labor of love, Brahms sent his publisher his own set of Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39 (1866), for piano duet. He dedicated the waltzes to Eduard Hanslick, one of his closest friends in Vienna, and, in a letter informing Hanslick of the dedication, strengthened the Schubert connection for posterity with these words: It consists of two volumes of innocent little waltzes in Schubertian form. If you don’t want them and would rather see your name on a proper piece with four movements, “your wish is my command.” Brahms also supplied his publisher with two versions of his waltzes for piano solo – one for “clever hands, and one perhaps, for more beautiful hands.” The version heard on this recording, indeed, is the one for clever hands.

All sixteen waltzes are composed in binary form, and most exhibit the streamlined harmonic compression that absorbed Brahms throughout his life. Robert Schumann’s influence is also apparent – No. 9 in D minor bears a family resemblance to the final dance in Davidsbündlertänze, and Brahms’ decision to end the set not with a blaze of excitement but with quiet contemplation is certainly a Schumannesque decision.

Complete Liner Notes


Extraordinary Vistas – Words & Music of The MacDowell Colony

26 Tracks — Total Time: 73:01

Edward MacDowell one of the most important American composers of the late nineteenth Century, along with his wife Marian, founded the artist colony that bears his name. In 1896 they bought a farm near Peterborough, New Hampshire that would become the MacDowell Colony. Among the more than 6,000 musicians and authors who spent time there where they were free to create were such notables as Aaron Copland and James Baldwin, both of whom are represented on this album.

Notes by Soprano Susan Narucki...


Fantasies

7 Tracks – Total Time: 55:14

Pianist Marianna Rashkovetsky has released her 3rd album for Americus. Just like the dream-like cover, this album contains superb performances of two fantasies by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [1756-1791], and the fiendishly difficult Wanderer Fantasy by Franz Schubert [1797-1828], and the technically difficult but somewhat neglected Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat Major, Op. 61 by Frédéric Chopin [1810-1849].

From the Album Notes:

The first known instance of fantasie being used as the title of a musical work dates to the 16th century. The name indicated that the piece expressed a musical “thought,” rather than exemplifying a particular genre or structural form. From then on, fantasie (German), alternately, fantasia (Italian) or fantasy (English), has been the term used to denote any piece that takes its form only from the composer’s imagination.

Fantasies always challenge the listener to travel with the composer through a spontaneous, ever-changing musical landscape. And yet, they remain historically rooted. For example, any fantasie by Mozart or Chopin reflects the intellectual currents of the composer’s era. Mozart, a child of the Enlightenment, composed fantasies that are objective, impersonal, and rational, even as he explored exquisite style and texture. In contrast, Chopin’s fantasies, are subjective, freely emotive, and express a highly personal, interior reality — as we would expect from an exemplar of Romanticism.

Performing the fantasies on this disc required me to be attentive to the score and the composer’s intent, while remaining open to musical possibility and subtle shades of meaning. I had to use my own imagination and marshal both technical expertise and historical knowledge. These fantasies were a pleasure to prepare, and I hope that you will love listening to them.

Complete Album Notes...


My Favorite Encores

19 Tracks – Total Time: 73:56

For many musicians, encores represent luscious desserts or special treats for performers to share with an appreciative audience at the end of a concert. Favorite piano encores tend to elicit one of two types of verbal responses.

•          "'WOW!" (On hearing virtuoso compositions that call for a display of impressive pyrotechniques), or

•          "AHHI" (When listening to deceptively simple short and quiet pieces that demonstrate a high level of mature musicianship)

In this collection of Walter Hautzig's favorite encores, he has included both categories of treats:

WOW!’s and AAH!’s. These nineteen diverse selections represent some of Walter Hautzig's personal favorites as encores, but the recording also presents some of the favorite encores of people who have enjoyed hearing Hautzig's thousands of performances all over the world.

The composers and arrangers represented in this collection of encores reflect many of the connections that have linked famous pianists of different generations. As a young man, Walter Hautzig (born 1921) studied piano with Mieczyslaw Munz (1900-1976) and Artur Schnabel (1882-1951). Munz had studied with Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924); Schnabel was a student of Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915). Later in Hautzig's career, for twenty-seven years at-the Peabody Conservatory of Music (Baltimore, MD), he taught piano while maintaining his international career as a concert pianist. As these program notes demonstrate, many of the selections on this CD represent connections between pianists who were influenced greatly by their own teachers as well as by other musicians.

I predict that twenty-first-century pianists and piano music lovers will enjoy listening again and again (Encore! Encore!) to the delectable tidbits and delicious treats that Walter Hautzig has chosen. I also predict that listeners will respond to these personal favorites with their own exclamations of “Bravo! Maestro!,” “AHH!” and “WOW!”

Complete Liner Notes


Schumann Lieder • Mozart Arias

23 Tracks – Total Time: 57:25

Famed baritone Christian Boesch and acclaimed pianist Bien Panganbian team up in this delightful live recording album of ten excerpts from Dichterliebe, Op. 48 by Robert Schumann [1810-1856] and a number of very famous opera arias by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [1756-1791] including Se vuol Ballare, Der Vogelganger bin ich, ja and Ein Mädchen order Weibchen. And they perform three encores: Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund, and Da unten im Tale, both by Johannes Brahms [1833-1897], and lastly, Zueignung by Richard Strauss [1864-1949].


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The Hawthorn Tree

7 Tracks – Total Time: 18:26

Joyce Castle is accompanied by the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble Orchestra

Reviewing the October 2010 world premiere performance of American composer William Bolcom’s The Hawthorn Tree, which was commissioned in honor of Joyce Castle’s 40th anniversary as a performer, Opera News reported “Castle is a musician and actor of the highest quality: her ability to convey a thought and its exact opposite at the same time make her delivery of a song compelling and immediate. Singing from memory, she demonstrated a deep connection to the atmosphere, character and emotion of each text, without ever appearing to deliver a planned reading.”  

Album Notes by Composer William Bolcom

Complete Lyrics (Poems)

About William Bolcom – Composer

Album Credits


The Piano & The Cello

CD1 – 7 Tracks – Total Time: 67:39 —— CD2 – 8 Tracks – Total Time: 72:15

Beethoven's cycle of five sonatas for cello and piano represents an historical landmark not only in the development of the classical sonata, but also of the cello and its relation to the piano in this genre. A study of Beethoven's creative evolution through these sonatas and other works for the same instrumental combination permits us, no less than the cycle of thirty-two piano sonatas or sixteen string quartets, to enter the world of the "total" Beethoven. In 1852, von Lenz published his analysis of Beethoven's·piano sonatas, in which he outlined the three style periods—early, middle, and late—that we commonly use today. However, the less common stylistic subdivisions by Prod'homme and Hess into five periods—student (1782-1794), virtuoso (1795-1800), appassionata (1801-1808), invasion (1809-1814), and sublimation (1815-1826)—reveal a more direct correlation between Beethoven's cello-piano works and critical moments of change in his style.

Complete Album Notes


Youthful Passion and Fantasy

8 Tracks — Total Time: 76:52

Pianist Matthew Manwarren plays two sublime works by Schumann and Brahms, both composed when they were young men. These works, at once beautiful and very difficult, demonstrate not only their skills as composers but also Dr. Manwarren's.

Complete Album Notes...