Miriam Terragni / Catherine Sarasin

Paraphrases Brillantes

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The best-known operatic paraphrases of the 19th century are the typically grandiose examples by Franz Liszt, but the literature of them was vast. Any listener of the time would have heard music like that on this album as part of his/her weekly musical diet, but the music and even the composers here, except for Joachim Raff, are virtually unknown, and their revival is all to the good. The nine "paraphrases brillantes" on the album were mostly written by flutist/composers, and a few of them, such as the opening "Rigoletto" Fantasie, Op. 335, by Wilhelm Popp and the Fantaisie brillante sur "Carmen" by François Borne, reach virtuoso extremes comparable to Liszt's works and others for piano solo. But this was the way audiences of the era, lacking recorded reproductions, relived the operas they loved, and most of the paraphrases depend more on attractive presentations of the tunes than on sheer fireworks. Flutist Miriam Terragni can indeed deliver both. But perhaps the chief attraction here is the group of three separate pieces based on tunes from La Traviata, each of them illustrative of the role that beloved opera played in 19th century musical life, and each assembling similar material in a slightly different way. The triple-digit opus numbers of these works indicates that profound musical thinking isn't part of the sales equation, but any flutist or general student of the 19th century scene in Italy and France will enjoy this recording. The sound, from a Zürich radio studio, is clear and attractive. Notes are in English and German.

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