Jeffrey Biegel

A Grand Romance

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The title A Grand Romance and the statement in the notes that "[t]his recording celebrates the intimacy of the relationship between pianist and public" during the Romantic era both make this recording sound more general than it actually is. What you have here is a collection of pieces generally played as encores. There are a few difficult technical details, but for the most part the mood is lyrical and the mode of expression concise. A program of 16 of these might seem excessive, but the program is chosen intelligently by American pianist Jeffrey Biegel, and the listener's interest doesn't flag. All the music, except for the Causerie of César Cui, was written by pianist/composers, a genre of musician that has almost disappeared, and indeed many of these composers -- Sergei Eduardovich Bortkiewicz, Paul de Schlözer, Giovanni Sgambati, and others -- have been pretty much forgotten. Some of the works are delightfully pictorial, such as Moritz Moszkowski's The Girl Juggler (or, as the track list inelegantly has it, The Juggleress); others are dances or etudes or little droplets of sheer sentiment. The most virtuosic work is the set of Arabesques on "The Blue Danube" by Andolf Schulz-Evler, and Biegel is not seriously challenged by it, although you could wish for more schmaltz in places here. Recommended, especially for piano recitalists themselves.

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