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Cat. No. CHAN 10319 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10319 - Rossini: Complete Piano Works, Volume 2
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Available From: 15 June 2005
Rossini’s Péchés de vieillesse – the umbrella title of a substantial number of compositions with equally spirited titles – were organised into a series of albums, each with its own title and each comprising between six and twenty-four autonomous works. Six of these albums are dedicated exclusively to the piano, and even in the others the piano plays a dominant role.The piano had become Rossini’s orchestra – at his disposal everymoment of the day – that he could play alone or entrust from time to time to young, even very young, pianists.This was an instrument that could distract him, at least for limited periods, from the superabundance of contemporary resonances so alien to the newly rediscovered economy of the classical composers.With the help of this instrument and after a gap of many years, Rossini returned to his profession of musician, using the keys of his Pleyel to conduct a line of research – often meticulous, sometimes pedantic – not so much into timbre as into harmony and rhythm.Whether used as a solo instrument or in conjunction with a voice or other instruments, the piano in Rossini’s last works roves across the most disparate tonalities and experiments with strange harmonies to the point where his faithful copyist found himself no longer able to transcribe them, not because Rossini’s writing was illegible (quite the contrary!) but because these harmonies struck him as too harsh, too indigestible. Rossini agreed that the proposed corrections were certainly easier on the ear, but, he told the copyist, they were not his harmonies, and asked him to restore the original version.

Rossini’s piano-playing is said to have been understated and tonally brilliant. Sollini’s is colourful and robust, but none the worse for that. The relish and panache of his playing here are not to be gainsaid and the recordings are superb.


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