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Classical - Released May 1, 2020 | Piano 21

Hi-Res Booklet
In the 1980s, Cyprien Katsaris lit up the discographic landscape with his recording for Teldec of the complete nine symphonies of Beethoven in the superlative transcriptions of Franz Liszt, a landmark undertaking. At the dawn of the festivities marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Franco-Cypriot pianist is offering us another bold project, a six-disc box set dedicated entirely to the Master of Bonn. This chronological “Beethovenian Odyssey” is comprised of particularly rare original works and transcriptions. It begins and ends with his very first and last works, enabling us to steep ourselves in the world of Beethoven and, by virtue of the solo piano, to troll through forty years of a creative life that left a deep impression on the history of music. So, the journey begins with the Variations on a Theme of Dressler, composed by a twelve-year-old adolescent, heavily influenced by Mozart and Haydn, followed by the very first sonata composed by Beethoven a few months later, not the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 2, No. 1, written more than ten years later (also in this box set, further on), cited as the first in the catalogue of the composer’s works, but another, fairly short piece, in E-Flat Major, that of the future “Emperor”, the first of three “sonatas” composed between 1782 and 1783 and dedicated to the Prince-Elector of Cologne, Maximilian Francis of Austria. Then follows an almost unknown work, the Two Preludes Op. 39, surprisingly experimental. Throughout this box-set journey, Cyprien Katsaris has no qualms about visiting works that are seldom played, in keeping with the watchword for his Piano 21 label: he plays what he loves, with an ever-fresh sense of sharing and curiosity. Thus he unveils for us a solo piano arrangement for the “Spring” and “Kreutzer” sonatas for piano and violin, the slow movements of the Sixth and Sixteenth Quartets of Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky, and the slow movement of Ninth Symphony in the Wagner’s arrangement. These transcriptions also shed light on a number of major figures of the musical world of the XIXth Century in Europe, sometimes forgotten (Louis Winkler, Gustav Roesler), sometimes neglected (Carl Czerny, Anton Diabelli) and attest to the radiant, irresistible aura of Beethoven’s genius for at least a century. Cyprien Katsaris certainly shares quantities of unpublished material here, but he does not neglect the more renowned side of Beethoven’s works, including in this programme eight of the thirty-eight sonatas (not least the most famous “Clair de Lune”, “The Tempest” and “Appassionata”). Everything you ever wanted to know about the greatness of Beethoven but never dared to ask can truly be found here. © Piano21

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Cyprien Katsaris in the magazine
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