Beach - Piano Music | Piano Classics PCL10277

Beach - Piano Music


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Label: Piano Classics

Cat No: PCL10277

Barcode: 5029365102773

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 10th November 2023



A wide-ranging introduction to the distinctive compositional voice of Amy Beach through her solo piano music, featuring both well-known and unfamiliar pieces. While Amy Beach is now among the best-known female composers of classical music history, her story becomes more remarkable as details of it are disseminated. The pianist Mark Viner introduces her life and music in a detailed but approachable essay to accompany this new recording of her piano music on Piano Classics. She was essentially self-taught, and a prodigy to match any previous celebrated male examples, at least in technical terms. She translated Berlioz’s treatise on orchestration in order to use it herself. She became a formidably accomplished pianist in her own right, but was then prevented from giving more than two recitals a year by her husband.

Beach continued to compose, however, and steadly so through the last decade of the 19th century and well into the 20th. The earliest piece on Martina Frezzotti’s recital is also one of her most familiar, the nocturne Dreaming from 1892, in which she emulates a Chopin model with piano writing that’s deceptively simple on the page but uniquely haunting on the ear.

The album’s most substantial work is the 25-minute Variations on Balkan Themes, from 1904. The four themes in question were passed on to her by a missionary to the region, and the piece amounts to a proud cry for Serbian nationalism in the post-Lisztian style. Through its course, Beach writes in the style of a barcarolle, a parlour waltz, a funeral march, a Hungarian dance and much more, weaving together her material with a sure hand.

Beach’s own skill as a pianist surely contributes to the soft tonal shades she conjures in her transcription of Richard Strauss’s song Ständchen. She also explored the possibilities of making accurate musical transcriptions of birdsong decades before Olivier Messiaen did so, and her most celebrated work in this vein is the achingly beautiful Hermit-Thrush at Eve from 1922.

Martina Frezzotti’s album of Fanny Mendelssohn for Piano Classics (PCL10238) won enthusiastic praise from David Hurwitz on a video review for Classics Today. According to (Andrew Eales), ‘Frezzotti proves a brilliant advocate for these pieces in this recording, combining a poetic sensibility with the necessary weight and flair to showcase the more dazzling elements of Mendelssohn’s piano writing. The recording is bright, reverberant and luminous.’

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