I am delighted to say that my CD has been reviewed very positively at MusicWeb.
Two reviews.http://www.musicweb-international.com/c ... 2013_8.htm
A Night at the Opera
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) arr. Giuseppe MARTUCCI Concert Fantasy on La Forza del Destino, Op.1* [8:53]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) arr. Sigismund THALBERG A te, O cara, Op.70/1 [5:40]
Vincenzo BELLINI arr. Andrew WRIGHT Fantasy on La Sonnambula, Op.3 [8:00]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) arr. Franz LISZT Recitative and Romance O, du mein holder Abendstern from Tannhäuser, S444 [7:42]
Richard WAGNER arr. Franz LISZT Isolde’s Liebestod, S447 [7:48]
Andrew WRIGHT Thalbergiana, Op.1 [6:25]
Giuseppe VERDI arr. Sigismund THALBERG Concert Fantasy on La Traviata, Op.78 [8:26]
Vincenzo BELLINI arr. Sigismund THALBERG Casta diva, Op.70/19 [6:25]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) arr. Andrew WRIGHT Concert Fantasy on Robert le Diable [5:23]
Andrew Wright (piano) – rec. Reid Hall, Edinburgh, 5-6 September 2012.
* first commercial recording
From amazon.co.uk (mp3) or cdbaby.com (CD, mp3 or flac, with sleeve notes).
Though these transcriptions were intended by their arrangers for bravura public performance and for domestic consumption in an age before musical reproduction was available, there’s still a place for them even now when the vocal originals are so easily available on demand when they’re as well performed as they are here.
The essence of the transcriptions is for the likes of Liszt to show off their technique and there’s oodles of that on display here, but without neglecting the music’s emotional content. The only exception that I thought at first I was going to make concerns the Liebestod – initially it seemed a trifle understated, but that makes the emotional fireworks all he more effective when they explode. Though I’m not a great fan of Maria Callas, I missed her voice in Casta Diva, but this is as good as it gets in piano transcription.
One listener at Amazon has already given this a rave 5-star review and I see no reason to demur. If you’re happy to pay in dollars, however, CD Baby offers the better deal – their price of $8.49 is slightly less than amazon.co.uk’s £7.49 and though they don’t offer the pdf booklet which I received for review, they do include all the sleeve-notes on their web-page and they offer 320kb/s mp3, as received by me for review, rather than Amazon’s usual 256kb/s, and even lossless flac. The recording sounds fine, if a trifle close and Andrew Wright’s notes cast light on an area of the repertoire with which I was all too unfamiliar.
There’s an increasing tendency for artists to publish their own recordings without benefit of a label. If they were all as good as this, we wouldn’t need the record companies.
This fascinating disc brings together some well-known pieces as well as several transcriptions with which I was previously unfamiliar. The late nineteenth century composer Giuseppe Martucci wrote mostly orchestral and instrumental music and no operas which was unusual for Italian composers of the time. I found his Concert Fantasy on La Forza del Destino very convincing, especially as this is an early work by this composer. It provides plenty of opportunities for virtuosic display by the performer. Andrew Wright plays with a really glittering tone in the brilliant right hand accompanying passage-work and he also shows a good grasp of the music's episodic structure. I particularly enjoyed the first of the two Thalberg transcriptions, A te, o cara from I Puritani. This piece contains much expressive and decorative music, attractively played here by Andrew Wright who always allows the melody to sing through the texture however complex.
Liszt's transcriptions of Wagner are of course very well-known, and Wright is particularly successful with a through-composed work such as Isolde's Liebestod. There is more drama here than in those pieces which consist basically of a succession of largely unconnected themes, often associated with Italian opera of this period. However he adopts a rather slow tempo for the main theme of the Liebestod which is fine for a singer who has a better possibility to sustain the tone, something rather more difficult to achieve on a piano. However there is a real sense of drama here. Wagner, Liszt and Wright together achieve a massive climax at the music's climactic point, and Isolde's Liebestod is the highlight of the disc for me. Probably this is because the work is created from one of the greatest pieces of music of the late nineteenth century!
I felt that Wright was really at his best when performing his own arrangements. I really enjoyed his fabulous and rich sounding piano in Thalbergiana, with its judicious mix of romantic melody and pianistic acrobatics. We hear beautifully expressive playing, excitement and drama in his version of Bellini's La Sonnambula, and Wright concludes his performance with a fine flourish of powerful virtuosity. Similarly virtuosic and entertaining is Wright's Concert Fantasy on Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, and this makes for a superb climax to a fine and interesting disc.
The entire programme is superbly and thrillingly played and the music is full of interest, including some unusual repertoire. The excellent recording copes magnificently with the vast range of tone colour and dynamics demanded by the pianist. This is a disc well worth hearing. Highly recommended.