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Author Topic: New transcriptions/paraphrases CD - by me  (Read 1141 times)
ronde_des_sylphes
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« on: March 18, 2016, 06:04:42 PM »

I'm delighted to announce that I have a date set next month for a two-day professional recording session during which I will be recording a sequel to my first operatic paraphrases CD (see here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/andrewwright and also reissued here by UK/US label Divine Art: http://www.divine-art.co.uk/CD/25113info.htm ; it can also be found on iTunes and Spotify).

I'm very much looking forward to doing this; the first one was well-received and got rather more attention than I had expected. Thus I am keeping the same formula: some Liszt, some Thalberg, a couple of my own arrangements, and some rarities!

I'm hoping that, with the benefit of experience gained from last time, I'll get the editing done reasonably quickly and hopefully I'll have a finished product sometime in May.
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ted
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2016, 11:45:55 PM »

Excellent news ! I shall look forward to purchasing it. The other one is always a treat to listen to and learn from.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2016, 11:18:42 AM »

Thanks Ted; your support is much appreciated. I'll post further information and updates in this thread as they arrive.
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marijn1999
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2016, 12:05:20 PM »

I just listened to the samples on CD Baby. Sounds pretty good, even though I don't like Liszt nor Thalberg that much. I think I'll buy it later today. I'm also looking forward to your new CD release.
Good luck!

BW,
Marijn
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2016, 03:52:54 PM »

Damned good show old chap.

Thal
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2016, 11:54:10 PM »

Thanks Marijn! I may have part of the recording filmed but this is currently in the 'to be confirmed' department.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2016, 03:22:51 PM »

Finished!

I now have seven-and-a-half hours' worth of takes to assess - and edit. (Also there is some video footage of me playing the material, during a short break from recording.)

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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2016, 10:38:57 PM »

Lots of hard work been going on. Things haven't been as speedy as I might have liked (studio time has been limited) - but I can now be reasonably confident in announcing the details of the CD. I still have to do a little cosmetic editing and some noise reduction, then figure out the route by which it will be released to the wider world, but I do have something close to a finished product to listen to!

Track listing and details:

1. Bellini/A. Jaell Reminiscences de Norma: An almost totally unknown paraphrase from a Liszt disciple. It has similarities to the epic Liszt paraphrase, but is a little shorter and incorporates Casta diva, which Liszt omitted.

2. Bellini (arranged by me) Col sorriso d'innocenza: Aria from Il Pirata: somewhat of a precursor of Casta diva, and I have arranged it in a manner similar to Thalberg's arrangement of Casta diva.

3. Donizetti/Leschetizky Andante finale de Lucia di Lammermoor: Leschetizky's ingenious reworking of the sextet for left hand only. Some resemblances to the Liszt paraphrase here.

4. Rossini/Thalberg Fantasie sur Moise in Egitto: one of the great behemoths of the operatic paraphrase tradition. Thalberg played this at his 1837 duel with Liszt, and the finale demonstrates Thalberg's legendary "three-hand effect" in some style.

5. Wagner/Liszt Lohengrin's Admonition: a shimmering but declamatory arrangement contrasts with the previous track.

6. Verdi/me Concert Fantasy on Miserere from Il Trovatore: a paraphrase in the Liszt/Thalberg tradition with lots of octaves, arpeggios and double notes!

7. Meyerbeer/Kullak Cavatine de Robert le Diable: a very rare arrangement of this famous aria. The only other arrangement I know of is also a rarity, the Liszt setting recorded by Leslie Howard.

8. Massenet/Saint-Saens La mort de Thais: high melodrama from the denouement of the opera, featuring a reworking of what we normally hear as the Meditation.

9. Wagner/Liszt Fantasy on themes from Rienzi: ending with a flamboyant paraphrase which features the famous prayer.

Running time: c. 67 mins.

Samples:
and http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=61927.0
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2016, 12:45:29 PM »

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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2016, 09:09:02 AM »

 Smiley

Working on the sleeve notes now - will post further updates here as they arrive.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2016, 01:54:22 AM »

I now have a finished product, and have paperwork to sign regarding the manner in which the CD will be released to the wider world. Exciting times!

It has taken me far longer than expected to get it ready, but my studio editing time has been limited, and the hall being quite prone to ambient noise really didn't help. Plus I'm very fussy about selecting takes Wink

To reiterate the track listing:

1. Bellini / Jaell : Reminiscences de Norma
2. Bellini / me : Col sorriso d’innocenza
3. Donizetti / Leschetizky : Andante finale de Lucia di Lammermoor (for lh only)
4. Rossini / Thalberg : Fantasy on Moses in Egypt
5. Wagner / Liszt : Lohengrin’s Admonition
6. Verdi / me : Fantasy on Miserere
7. Meyerbeer / Kullak : Cavatine de Robert le Diable
8. Massenet / Saint-Saens : La mort de Thais
9. Wagner / Liszt : Fantasy on themes from Rienzi

I'm particularly pleased with the Jaell and the Saint-Saens, which I think are very worthwhile paraphrases, really high quality.

On a personal note I'd like to add a mention of my teacher here. Fifteen years ago I went to study with Kenneth van Barthold as an enthusiastic amateur with a certain amount of raw ability and precious little else. I have had no conventional training, whether conservatoire or music school / university, thus it is with profound gratitude that I recall our summer lessons and phone conversations inbetween. That he has changed me into a musician, still flawed but infinitely more disciplined and precise, is something I will never forget - nor will I forget the breadth of his intellect and our discussions on matters far beyond music. It is a matter of considerable sadness that, having done the preparatory work for this CD with him last summer, that he is no longer around to see the fruits of our shared labours. His advice could be cutting but never needlessly harsh and always very much to the point. This CD is intended to very much be in memoriam.
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dogperson
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2016, 01:58:34 AM »

Warmest congrats on finishing your CD project!   
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2016, 02:02:31 AM »

Thanks! I'm pleased to say I've got a fair few rarities in there.  Smiley
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debussychopin
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2016, 01:02:57 PM »

This is actually good work here that I appreciate. Keep it up.
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Menuet Suite Bergamasque
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2016, 01:26:32 PM »



 Cheesy
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2016, 08:41:34 AM »

Thanks! When I have details of the release schedule I'll post it here.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2016, 07:35:57 PM »

I can now confirm that this CD will be released in the first half of next year though Divine Art Records, as a sequel CD to their previous reissue of my debut transcriptions CD.

http://www.divineartrecords.com/news.htm (top of page)
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2017, 11:42:59 PM »

I'm very excited to now be able to finally announce that the CD is now available for pre-order at Amazon UK (release date 9th August).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Operatic-Pianist-Andrew-Wright-Divine/dp/B073LYTXWB

It should become available within most geographical areas by the end of August.

Some track samples: https://soundcloud.com/andrew-wright-35/sample-extracts
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2017, 10:35:39 AM »


 Smiley

Little teaser video with audio samples.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2017, 04:14:37 PM »

The CD "The Operatic Pianist II" is now out in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Operatic-Pianist-Andrew-Wright-Divine/dp/B073LYTXWB - though it is showing as "temporarily out of stock".

It will be fully available on Amazon within the US and Europe by the 25th August - in some areas you may already be able to purchase it as a European import. Amazon.de (ie German Amazon) has quite extensive audio samples. https://www.amazon.de/Operatic-Pianist-II-Wright-Andrew/dp/B073LYTXWB

Also, it is now available to pre-order direct from the issuing record label: https://divineartrecords.com/recording/operatic-pianist-volume-two/

I'm posting the sleeve notes in this thread for anyone who would care to take a look and read them. Of course, this is all the culmination of a lot of very hard work!

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« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2017, 04:39:08 PM »

Like its predecessor, The Operatic Pianist, this selection focuses on the recreative art of transcription and paraphrase. In the mid-19th century, such works held a considerably more prominent place in musical life than nowadays, when they have largely been consigned to the realms of historical footnotes. In the developing age of the travelling virtuoso, and predating the gramophone, these pieces served two primary functions. Firstly, they enabled familiar (typically operatic) themes of the day to be heard without the necessity of visiting the opera house itself, and secondly, they provided the pianist with attractive material for public performance.

By far the most significant contributors to this area of the repertoire were Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871). Between them, they wrote well over a hundred such pieces. The rivalry between these two composer-pianists was to have profound implications for the development of pianistic technique and texture as we know it today. Despite the acclaim accorded both men during their lifetimes, posterity has awarded fame to Liszt and obscurity to Thalberg, principally due to the former's greater compositional invention and ingenuity. This disc seeks to combine the famous and the infamous with the virtually unknown and the long-forgotten.

Thus we begin with a highly obscure paraphrase by the composer Alfred Jaëll (1832-1882). Whilst Jaëll enjoyed considerable fame during the 1850s, embarking on a lengthy and successful tour of America, he is nowadays at best a very minor and virtually unrecorded musical footnote in the history books: if his name attracts a flicker of recognition from the connoisseur, it is probably as the husband of the pianist and pedagogue Marie Jaëll (1846-1925, née Trautmann), whose compositions have attracted some attention lately. Jaëll studied with Czerny and Moscheles, and was on friendly terms with Liszt, who wrote warmly of his playing.

His Réminiscences de Norma, based on the opera by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), arguably bears some resemblance to Liszt's epic paraphrase, but is a little shorter and incorporates the famous aria Casta diva, which Liszt chose to omit. Compared to Compared to the approximately contemporaneous treatment of Casta diva by Thalberg, Jaëll presents it in a more overtly romantic manner, whereas Thalberg remains in a world at least residually influenced by classicism.

Continuing with Bellini, the aria Col sorriso d’innocenza, from Il Pirata, may be viewed as somewhat of a precursor to the aforementioned Casta diva, even down to the mutual con flauto introduction. With this in mind, I opted to arrange the aria in a restrained manner similar to Thalberg's approach to Casta diva (see the sister and predecessor disc to this one, DDA 25113). In general, the transcription is fairly literal, and more specifically it is in effect a study in voicing the weaker fingers of the right hand, within which the melodic line typically resides.

Theodore Leschetizky (1830-1915) is now primarily renowned as a pedagogue, but in his time he was also known as a pianist and a composer with a significant corpus of works, including a piano concerto, two operas, and a multitude of salon pieces to his name. One of his few compositions which has survived in the periphery of solo piano repertoire is his ingenious left hand only reworking of the sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. As with Jaëll's Réminiscences de Norma, the writing suggests the composer was familiar with Liszt's paraphrase (for two hands!) of the same source material.

Thalberg's Fantasie sur Mosè in Egitto, on the opera by Giachino Rossini (1792-1868), is one of the great, and notorious, behemoths of the operatic paraphrase tradition. 1830s Paris was awash with celebrated pianists - Liszt, Thalberg, Chopin, Alkan, Kalkbrenner, Herz and Pixis being perhaps the most renowned - and ultimately the rivalry between Liszt and Thalberg, fomented by numerous press articles agitating for the superiority of first one, then the other, led to the Princess Cristina di Belgiojoso staging the social coup of 1837 by arranging for both pianists to perform at the same musical event in her celebrated salon. Despite there being a number of other famous musicians performing - the violinist Christian Urhan being but one of them - the event was viewed as a de facto duel between Liszt and Thalberg to determine the preeminent pianist in Paris, if not the entire world.

Both pianists performed flamboyant virtuoso paraphrases and arrangements: Liszt offering his Fantasy on Niobe (an opera by Giovanni Pacini, wildly successful in its time, but now almost forgotten) and a solo piano arrangement of Weber's Konzertstück, whilst Thalberg contributed his Fantasy on God Save The King and additionally Moses, with which he had captured the attention of the concert-going public, largely through the spectacular finale which gives the illusion of three hands playing simultaneously - the bass notes, the melody, and the all-enveloping arpeggiation. Moses became such a success that, when Thalberg was spotted attending a recital given by the pianist Theodor Döhler, the audience would not allow the performance to go ahead until Thalberg had personally performed it - at another man's recital!

Returning to the duel, biographers have tended to give Liszt the victory, but the supporting facts are less clear. The Princess's oft-cited quote is diplomatically ambiguous: “Thalberg is the first pianist in the world — Liszt is unique”. Jules Janin wrote in the Journal des Débats a few days later: “Never was Liszt more controlled, more thoughtful, more energetic, more passionate; never has Thalberg played with greater verve and tenderness. Each of them prudently stayed within his harmonic domain, but each used every one of his resources. It was an admirable joust. The most profound silence fell over that noble arena. And finally Liszt and Thalberg were both proclaimed victors by this glittering and intelligent assembly. It is clear such a contest could only take place in the presence of such an Areopagus. Thus two victors and no vanquished; it is fitting to say with the poet et adhuc sub judice lis est." What we can infer is that, whilst Liszt was normally the considerable superior of rival pianists, Thalberg represented serious competition to his crown.

Wagner's Lohengrin received its first performance at Weimar in 1850, with Liszt conducting. Wagner himself was unable to attend, having been obliged to go into political exile in Switzerland following the revolutionary unrest in Dresden in May 1849, where he had aligned himself prominently with leftist and anarchist groups, going so far as to design street barricades. During this period of upheaval in Wagner's life, Liszt was a considerable support to him, both championing his music and assisting him financially. Wagner wrote to Liszt, "Bring out my Lohengrin! You are the only one to whom I would put this request, to no-one but you would I entrust the production of this opera; but to you I surrender it with the fullest, most joyous confidence". This shimmering arrangement of Lohengrin’s Admonition, taken from Act III, provides something of a contrast to Moses, not only in terms of mood but also in terms of approach, being essentially a fairly literal transcription rather than a free paraphrase.

In my paraphrase on Verdi's Miserere I sought to combine a close replica of the original aria with colouristic and technical devices similar to those used by Liszt, Thalberg and their pianistic contemporaries. Heavy bass chords are used to simulate the bells of Verdi's introduction, and subsequent thematic material is liberally embellished with tremolandi, arpeggios, trills, passages in thirds, and interlocking alternate hand chords and octaves, culminating in a frantic moto perpetuo prior to the coda. This composition began life as an improvisation where such influences sprang naturally into place.

Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable was one of the great Parisian operatic successes of the 1830s - consequently it is perhaps unsurprising that many pianists (Liszt, Thalberg, Pixis, Henselt and Adolfo Fumagalli spring to mind) wrote paraphrases on themes therefrom. Liszt's Valse infernale is the only one which has really endured on the fringes of solo piano repertoire, though its considerable difficulty perhaps ensures that it remains there. What is little known is that Liszt also wrote a transcription of the Act IV Cavatine, and less-known still is the existence of an arrangement of the same Cavatineby Theodor Kullak (1818-1882). Kullak was a composer-pianist, and had been something of a child prodigy. He is now primarily known for his efforts as a pedagogue: his The School of Octave Playing is still considered significant in the field. Most of his piano music has fallen into desuetude (with the possible exception of his piano concerto), so it is a considerable pleasure to present this previously unrecorded rarity, which is nonetheless characteristic of much music composed with polish and evident affection by "minor masters" of the era.

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) wrote a fair few transcriptions, but is far less associated with operatic settings than his predecessors - perhaps because by the end of his long career the genre had already fallen somewhat out of critical favour, for reasons probably including an increasing preoccupation with the sanctity of the printed text and a greater tendency towards "intellectualised" concert programmes. Here we find high melodrama from the denouement of Massenet's Thaïs; the second half of the paraphrase features a reworking of material the listener would more usually associate with the famous Meditation but which returns in the opera during the closing death scene. It is perhaps not overly imaginative to draw comparisons here with a Francophone Liebestod. Remarkably, for a composer of such renown, this appears to be a first commercial recording.

The programme concludes with a flamboyant piece of Lisztiana: a paraphrase from Liszt's more mature years but one which represents something of a throwback to the Liszt of the 1830s. Liszt wrote the Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi in 1859, and his then son-in-law (and one of his favourite pupils) Hans von Bülow was entrusted with the premiere performance. Of course, history makes us aware of a certain irony here, in that Wagner was directly responsible for the end of von Bülow's marriage, a series of events which was to seriously test both Liszt's diplomatic skills and his respect for Wagner. The Rienzi Fantasy contains three primary themes from Wagner's opera, two of which are present in the associated overture. The famous "prayer" theme is much to the forefront and becomes heavily embellished before ending in a tumultuous flurry of octaves and chordal hammer-blows.


My thanks are due to all the people who contributed towards the making of this disc: in particular I would like to thank Graeme Watt for his skill and patience during the editing process, and Kenneth van Barthold (1927-2016) and Nicholas Pope, without whose advice and encouragement there can be no doubt the project would not have reached fruition. This disc is dedicated, with fond remembrance of many stimulating hours spent discussing music and much more besides, in memoriam Kenneth van Barthold.

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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2017, 12:26:42 PM »

Apologies for being slightly spammy  Roll Eyes

Very nice online review! *blushes*

https://rafaelmusicnotes.com/2017/08/15/opera-without-singing/


".. composers one might or might not recall from one’s dreaded days in Music 101 in college.

Cases in point: Alfred Jaëll…Theodore Leschitizky…Even the name of Sigismund Thalberg sent us running to our Grove’s Dictionary of Music in order to jug one’s fading memory bank. Ah, yes! The big rival of Liszt’s!

Were it not for the larger than life musical labor of love of Scottish pianist Andrew Wright this album would have not been made."


".. These fantasies and paraphrases and reminiscences were conceived by Chopin and Liszt and Meyerbeer [sic - Kullak] in the 19th Century – an era during which the salon played as important a part in musical life as the recital or concert hall. Any good music was good music back then and this music is good enough for me wherever it may be played.

Oh, how I wish to God it would get more play in the stultified concert venues of today, where the repertory encompasses just about everything from A to B and little else.

In an age in which the “intellectualization” of concert programs (in Mr. Wright’s choice of words) has subjected the concertgoer to many hours of numbing sameness, these musical tours of strength provide entertainment and solace. "

(My bold text for emphasis, as the narrowness of concert programmes is a particular bugbear of mine.)
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2017, 03:24:27 PM »

Apologies for being slightly spammy  Roll Eyes

Very nice online review! *blushes*

https://rafaelmusicnotes.com/2017/08/15/opera-without-singing/


".. composers one might or might not recall from one’s dreaded days in Music 101 in college.

Cases in point: Alfred Jaëll…Theodore Leschitizky…Even the name of Sigismund Thalberg sent us running to our Grove’s Dictionary of Music in order to jug one’s fading memory bank. Ah, yes! The big rival of Liszt’s!

Were it not for the larger than life musical labor of love of Scottish pianist Andrew Wright this album would have not been made."


".. These fantasies and paraphrases and reminiscences were conceived by Chopin and Liszt and Meyerbeer [sic - Kullak] in the 19th Century – an era during which the salon played as important a part in musical life as the recital or concert hall. Any good music was good music back then and this music is good enough for me wherever it may be played.

Oh, how I wish to God it would get more play in the stultified concert venues of today, where the repertory encompasses just about everything from A to B and little else.

In an age in which the “intellectualization” of concert programs (in Mr. Wright’s choice of words) has subjected the concertgoer to many hours of numbing sameness, these musical tours of strength provide entertainment and solace. "

(My bold text for emphasis, as the narrowness of concert programmes is a particular bugbear of mine.)
exciting stuff!!! I check this thread regularly and am always happy when a new update comes down. Super stoked for the release ! :-]
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« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2017, 09:05:33 AM »

Finally - today is the official world release day for my CD! And many thanks for all the encouragement I've received via pm etc!
https://divineartrecords.com/recording/operatic-pianist-volume-two/
Time to Wink Cheesy



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« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2017, 10:32:38 PM »

Excellent news, Andrew, have a couple of drinks on the strength of it. I have just bought the CD. The last CDs I bought, from the ragtime composer, Brian Keenan, took forty-six days to arrive ! I could cheerfully throttle the New Zealand postal service. Let's see how long yours takes, not forty-six days I hope.
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"It's a caution, grandson !"  -  My grandmother's reaction to almost any issue of the day.
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« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2017, 12:28:30 PM »

Thanks, ted, much appreciated. 46 days sounds extreme! Hopefully the cd will get there much more quickly.
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« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2017, 11:42:10 PM »

I'm pleased to say I've had some more nice reviews (and one not so good one!)

https://divineartrecords.com/review/operatic-pianist-ii-musicweb-review/


My favourite sample section from the album:


(it's hiding in the audition room in its pre-noise reduced state, but no harm in reposting, I think.)

Anyway, some thought ahead as to whether I will go for a third disc - I'm a bit short on material I like, but research is ongoing.
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« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2017, 06:27:37 AM »

thank you Maestro Wright.  beautiful work, you made the music sound very natural.  your instrument is a Hamburg steinway ?  enjoyed how it was recorded, a bit subdued relative to other contemporary, over-resonant/overtone'd recordings, similar in that respect to the instruments of the 19th century the composers worked with.  may you enjoy success and positive reception for your efforts.  peace
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« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2017, 02:37:27 PM »

Thanks - glad to hear that you've enjoyed it! It was recorded on a 1984 Hamburg Steinway, and we tried to keep digital manipulation of the sound to a minimum apart from the application of noise reduction - which unfortunately we had to do rather a lot of and was rather time-consuming!
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