Silke Avenhaus

Salon chromatique et harmonique

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As a challenge to artists who record nothing but the standard repertoire, pianist Silke Avenhaus has released a quirky CD that points in a different direction. Presented under the artifice of re-creating a typical 19th century salon performance, Avenhaus' selections reflect the adventurous nature of the Romantic recital, which bore little resemblance to the modern practice of trotting out only the warhorses that everyone knows. It would have been expected for pianists to play the new music of the day, in a mix of familiar and unusual pieces, so Avenhaus does something similar in her album of odd keyboard music by Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, and Gioacchino Rossini. While Après une lecture du Dante has had considerable exposure on disc, due to the flurry of releases during the Liszt bicentennial celebration in 2011, the rest of his pieces are unusual choices that are mostly known to specialists but not a broad audience. Such late Liszt pieces as R.W. - Venezia and La lugubre Gondola No. 1 are rare on most contemporary concerts, but they are the kind of curiosities that make Avenhaus' program so intriguing. Aside from the transcription of the Liebestod, which is quite recognizable, the Sonata by Wagner is almost never heard, and Rossini's Une caresse à ma femme and his Valse lugubre are far from regular fare. Taken as a whole, this album is unlike anything turned out by big name pianists on the major labels, and Avenhaus' refreshing approach to music-making lets listeners make their own discoveries in this cleverly devised program.

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