My Favorite Encores – Walter Hautzig, piano

COMPLETE ALBUM NOTES

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My Favorite Encores - Front CoverFor 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 921) 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!”

MUSIC TRANSCRIBED FOR SOLO PIANO

[1] Marcello-Bach: Aria from Oboe Concerto

The lives of the Italian composer Benedetto Marcello (1636-1739) and the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) overlapped for more than half a century. This transcription by Bach was one of several borrowed concertos that Bach arranged for keyboard. In the catalogue of Bach's works, the work is identified as BWV 981. Among Marcello's compositions, the original piece is known as Oboe Concerto in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 2. Bach assigned the oboe's solo to the player's right hand where it soars over the gently repeated chords played softly by the left hand.

[2] Gluck-Sgambati: Melody from Orfeo/Orpheus

The Italian musician Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914), who studied piano with Franz Liszt (1811-1886), transcribed to piano a short orchestral piece by the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787). Gluck composed many ballets and at least 45 operas, and almost all of his works were intended for performance in theatres. Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice, based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Euridice, was first performed in Vienna in 1762. Two years later, his revised version of the opera was presented in Paris (Orphée et Eurydice). “Melody'” actually appears in a ballet segment of the opera when a group of Blessed Spirits gathers to dance to music assigned to a solo flute with accompanying strings. Gluck provided no text to this glorious melody that functions as a "Song Without Words."

[3] Handel-Munz: Minuet, from Berenice

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), who was born in Germany, composed 42 operas between the years 1705 and 1740. His opera Berenice was first performed in London in 1737, ten years after Handel had become a naturalized British citizen. Throughout Handel's life he reused his own musical ideas and also borrowed from other composers. For Handel, the reworking of musical material was a valid creative activity. Mieczyslaw Munz reworked Handel's material for his piano transcription of this operatic '”Minuet.”

[4] Schubert-Liszt: Standchen (Serenade)

The short but productive musical life of Franz Schubert (1779-1828) centered around Vienna, Austria. In contrast, Franz Liszt (1811-1886), who became the most important virtuoso pianist of the nineteenth-century, was famous throughout Europe. At Liszt's piano recitals, he often performed his original compositions but he also featured his arrangements, transcriptions, paraphrases, fantasies, and reminiscences of music by other composers. In addition to borrowing from Schubert, Liszt also reworked music by many other composers including Bach. Mozart, Beethoven, Meyerbeer, Donizetti, Bellini, Paganini, Chopin, and Mendelssohn. Long before the advent of radio broadcasts and recordings, Liszt was responsible for introducing audiences to music they probably would never have heard were it not for Liszt s concert performances of his arrangements of orchestral and vocal works by other composers.  Standchen (Serenade) is from Schubert’s set of art songs known as Schwanengesang (Swansong—actually meaning Farewell song). In 1829, a few months after the composer's death, the song cycle (D. 957) was first published by the Viennese publisher Tobias Haslinger. Liszt's powerful transcription, prepared in 1838-1839, was also published by Haslinger. Although Liszt retained Schubert's selection of tonalities, he rearranged the sequence of the fourteen songs.

PIECES ORIGINALLY COMPOSED FOR SOLO PIANO

[5] Schubert: Moment Musical in F Minor, D780, No. 3

This light-hearted and witty miniature was one of Schubert's later works. Although the complete set of six musical moments (D. 780) was published in 1828, the year of Schubert's death1 the selection in F Minor originally was introduced as "Air russe," a single piece that first appeared in December 1823 in a popular Viennese music periodical.

[6] Schumann: Traumerei (Reverie), Op. 15, No. 7

The German composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) studied piano with Friedrich Wieck (1785- 1973) and later married Wieck's talented daughter, Clara (1819-1896), who was famous all over Europe as a virtuoso pianist. (After one of Clara's concerts, a stranger inquired of Robert, “And are you a musician, too?”) Schumann's set of thirteen short programmatic pieces in his Kinderscenen (Scenes from Childhood), Op. 15, was composed in 1838. Unlike Schumann's later set of miniatures, Album für die Jugend (Album for the Young). Kinderscenen was not intended to provide easy pieces for children to play at early stages of their piano study. Instead, these childhood scenes offer reflections - by adults, for adults - that recall youthful events and feelings.

[7] Brahms: Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) first visited Vienna in· 1862. The following year he accepted the directorship of the Vienna Singakademie. Soon after Brahms had moved from Hamburg to Vienna, the capital of the waltz, he composed a set of Sixteen Waltzes for piano four hands and solo piano. Unlike the much longer waltzes of Johann Strauss, Brahms’ dances were not pieces for dancing but pieces for nostalgic listening. This tender waltz is a precious miniature that has been a favorite encore for generations of concert-goers and virtuoso pianists.

[8] Chopin: Waltz in E-flat Major, Op. 18

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was born in Poland but spent most of his adult life in France. In contrast to Brahms' short waltz on the previous band, Chopin's “Grande Valse Brilliant” presents an elegant showpiece guaranteed to wow audiences in Parisian salons or in concert halls around the world.

[9] Chopin: Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2

Chopin's nostalgic "night piece" borrows from the tradition of Italian operatic arias that incorporated characteristics of bel canto singing. Over a gentle accompanying figure assigned to the left hand, the pianist's right hand represents a flexible and highly expressive vocal line.

[10] Chopin: Waltz in D-flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1

Although this short piece is often referred to as Chopin's “Minute Waltz,” there is no evidence that the composer wanted the waltz to be performed in sixty seconds or less. Perhaps, instead, Chopin might have envisioned the vibrant scene of an adventurous puppy dog chasing its tail?

[11] Chopin: Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op; 53

Chopin's Polish heritage is reflected in this grand polonaise, a formal processional dance reminiscent of court life in Poland. Proud and majestic, with a festive and stately character, polonaises were notated in moderate triple meter and incorporated strong rhythmic figures in the accompaniment.

[12] Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin (“The Girl with Flaxen Hair”)

This composition by Claude Debussy (1862-1918), inspired by a poem of the French writer Leconte de Lisle, was included in the composer's First Book of Preludes (1910). The miniature, a demure and gentle piece, is a favorite AHH!

[13] Debussy: Feux d'artifice (Fireworks)

This virtuoso piece, included in Debussy's second book of Preludes (1913), presents dramatic flashes of sound and even incorporates a patriotic quotation from the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” When presented as an encore, this exciting and brilliant piece is a sure-fire WOWI

[14] Mompou: Jeunes filles au jardin (“Girls in the Garden”) from “Scenes d'Enfants” (Scenes of Childhood)

The Catalan pianist Federico Mompou (1893-1987) wrote extensively for the piano and composed this set of pieces between the years 1915-1918. In 1974, when Mompou was more than eighty years old, he recorded five discs that included all of his compositions for solo piano.

[15) DesMarteau: Spanish Nights

John DesMarteau (1949-) presents an American's v1s1on of romantic images from Spain. Originally from Canada, DesMarteau has lived in the US since 1978. Trained as a board-certified anesthesiologist. Dr. DesMarteau has many interests and has developed many skills. He explained that his inspiration for composing this piece “came from listening to [Hautzig's] superb rendition of Alberto Ginastera's Milonga” (Dances for the Piano - AMR20011017 – ©20012 Americus Records, Inc.]

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC TRANSCRIBED TO THE PIANO BY THE COMPOSER

[16] de Falla: Danza del molinero (The Dance of the Miller) from El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat)

The ballet El sombrero de tre picos, by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), was first performed in Madrid in 1917 using the composer's original orchestration for chamber orchestra. Two years later, after de Falla had revised and expanded the work for a larger orchestra, the ballet was produced in London under the direction of the Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929). The Dance of the Miller is the third of the-four dances in the ballet. In the choreographed story: the miller is identified as a person from southern Spain. Providing dramatic contrast, his wife dances a lively jota and represents a woman from Navarre, in northern Spain.

[17] de Falla: "Danza ritual del fuego (Ritual Fire Dance) from El Amor Brujo (Love, The Magician)

De Falla's ballet El Amor Brujo tells the story of a gypsy girl, who is haunted by the spirit of her dead lover. In an effort to remove the power of his spell, she draws a circle around herself and then mutters incantations while performing an incandescent solo dance.

ARRANGEMENTS AND CONCERT PARAPHRASES

[18] Friedman: Gärtnerwalzer No. 2

Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948) was born in Poland and developed a reputation among pianists for being "the most famous [piano] teacher of the late nineteenth century." Friedman. took a set of six Viennese Waltzes - composed by a little-known Austrian singer, Eduard Gartner - and turned the pieces into pianistic masterpieces.

[19] Strauss-Grünfeld-Hautzig: Concert Paraphrase of Die Fledermaus (The Bat)

Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825.:1899) was the son of another famous Viennese composer associated with waltzes - Johann Strauss, Sr. The son's three-act operetta, Die Fledermaus (The Bat), is full of tunes that became favorites of Viennese audiences and musicians around the world. This paraphrase presents a musical potpourri of melodies from the operetta as arranged for piano by Alfred Grünfeld (1852-1924). Grünfeld was a student of the German pianist Theodor Kullak (1818-1882); Kullak was a piano student of Carl Czerny (1791-1857); and, as a boy, Czerny had studied with Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). In keeping with improvisatory traditions of great nineteenth-century pianists, on this recording Walter Hautzig supplements Grnfeld's ideas by adding his own variants to these settings of songs from Die Fledermaus.

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Recorded in Kristiansand, Norway, January 2003, at Sigurd Lie Hall of Agder University College. John Bøe is the recording engineer and editor. The piano is a Hamburg Steinway, maintained by Åse Gundersen. The producer is Walter Hautzig and the executive producer is John DesMarteau. Graphic design is by John DesMarteau. Mastering by Chris Brydy at Worldflight Productions, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland.

 

–  Barbara English Maris

Professor Emerita

Catholic University

Washington, D. C.