Kalkbrenner: 25 Grandes Etudes de Style et de Perfectionnement

In this video

“This album is dedicated to the memory of Edna Osborne, who lost her battle with Covid-19 on 30/12/20. Forever in my loving thoughts, Nan.” Tyler Hay

Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849) was born in Kassel, Germany. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, then went to London for several years but eventually settled in Paris, where he became a fashionable and celebrated pianist and composer. When Chopin moved to Paris in the 30ties he was mightily impressed by Kalkbrenner. He said “Herz, Liszt and Hiller are all zeros next to Kalkbrenner”. However Kalkbrenner’s arrogant and self-indulgent manners and his not-so-fashionable compositions finally led him into oblivion.

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Composer: Friedrich Kalkbrenner
Artist: Tyler Hay (piano)

This album contains the 25 Grandes Etudes, Op. 143 by Kalkbrenner, presented by Piano Classics, a label of Brilliant Classics.

A groundbreaking collection of studies by one of the 19th century’s leading keyboard lions. By the early 1830s, the celebrated virtuoso Friedrich Wilhelm Michael Kalkbrenner was at the height of his pianistic powers. It was at this time that Chopin moved to Paris and found Kalkbrenner to be the finest pianist he had heard: ‘Herz, Liszt and Hiller are all zeros next to Kalkbrenner.’

The Etudes Op. 143 show an extraordinarily mature and creative side to Kalkbrenner’s ability as a composer, despite having been largely neglected. They were conceived at the same time as Chopin’s 12 Etudes op 10 and a number of important similarities can be discovered through the study of both sets. These 25 character pieces are as musically concise as they are technically useful and the rich variety of characters and colours provide us with one of the most interesting and contrasting sets of studies in the piano literature.

As well as showpiece demonstrations of Kalkbrenner’s own stupendous technique, such as the ascending and descending broken octaves of No.1 and the evocation of a storm at sea in the Fifth, there are several more subtle musical tone-paintings. No.6 has the warmest and most intimate melody in the collection, clearly influenced by operatic writing. No.13 has a haunting, magical texture of rippling quick notes accompanying a melody line pitched as if for a lyrical cello.

Such variety of ideas makes the collection as richly satisfying to listen to as it is challenging to play, culminating in a tarantella loosely based on a theme from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.

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25 Grandes Etudes, Op. 143:
0:00:00 I. Leggiero e Vivace in F Major
0:01:32 II. Moderato in F Minor
0:04:30 III. Presto in B-Flat Minor
0:06:05 IV. Moderato in B-Flat Major
0:08:51 V. Allegro furioso in A Minor
0:10:26 VI. Moderato in F-Sharp Major
0:15:13 VII. Allegro furioso in C Minor
0:17:26 VIII. Allegrissimo in C Major
0:19:08 IX. Poco Allegro in E-Flat Major
0:21:22 X. Allegro e molto staccato in E Minor
0:24:37 XI. Moderato quasi adagio in C Major
0:27:31 XII. Molto allegro in A-Flat Major
0:29:50 XIII. Moderato e legato in F-Sharp Minor
0:32:56 XIV. Molto allegro in B Minor
0:34:19 XV. Brillante in C Major
0:35:44 XVI. Moderato e espressivo in C-Sharp Minor
0:38:35 XVII. Tempestuoso in F Minor
0:40:12 XVIII. Non troppo allegro in A Major
0:42:23 XIX. Molto appassionato in E-Flat Major
0:44:47 XX. Moderato in G Major
0:47:15 XXI. Risoluto e agitato in G Minor
0:49:33 XXII. Presto, molto agitato in G-Sharp Minor
0:51:36 XXIII. Molto allegro in E Minor
0:52:43 XXIV. Vivo e agitato in B-Flat Major
0:54:13 XXV. Toccata allegrissimo in C Minor

0:58:30 Variations brillantes sur une mazourka de Chopin, Op. 120

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