Third release on Ondine by the Austrian star violinist Benjamin Schmid contains fresh arrangements of well-known piano pieces by Shostakovich and Prokofiev for violin and piano. Also included is a suite transcribed from Kurt Weill's iconic ‘The Threepenny Opera'. All the three original works by the composers were written during the 1910s and 1920s.
Voyager autour du monde… libres, les poches vides et sans débourser un centime ! C’est le défi relevé par trois étudiants, Benjamin le Français, Nicola l’Italien et Raphael le Berlinois, tous les trois convaincus que l’argent corrompt l’homme et la société qui l’entoure. Cette aventure autour du monde inédite va les mener des Pays-Bas au Mexique, en passant par l’Afrique du Nord. …
The first volume of this series (Naxos 8.550761) mixed the first two sonatas of Field's Op. 1 with the first nine Nocturnes. The Sonata Op. 1 No. 3 in C minor logically appears on this second volume, in a most successful performance. Dedicated to Clementi, the first movement shows distinct tendencies towards 'Sturm und Drang'. Neither movement is fast: the concluding Rondo (marked Allegretto scherzando) is bursting with wit and charm to balance the stress of the first. This piece alone justifies the modest outlay for this disc. The remaining tracks, the next nine Nocturnes in the series, demonstrate Frith's sensitivity. Importantly, he shows a laudable restraint with the sustaining pedal. His sweet cantabile is the result of an acute musical sensitivity, and he never overblows the scale of these miniatures.
Fifteen years before Chopin wrote his first “nocturne”, Irish pianist/composer John Field composed his Nocturne No. 1 in E-flat major, followed by at least 15 more pieces in the same style. In these short works for solo piano, Field–who was one of the most celebrated pianists in the world during the first quarter of the 19th century–put form to the idea of a contemplative, lyrical composition, specifically tailored to the piano’s expressive capabilities. These “night” pieces are primarily characterized by a dominant, gracefully flowing melody, with most of the harmonic activity in the pianist’s left hand. Although other pianists have recorded at least some of Field’s Nocturnes–most notably John O’Conor (Telarc) and Miceál O’Rourke (Chandos)–Benjamin Frith’s own uniquely inflected, poetic readings have a satisfying aura of intimacy cast in the warm colors of his well-tempered, expertly recorded piano. Although O’Conor’s playing is more lyrical, with more fluid legatos, Frith generally takes more time–and these invariably lovely pieces blossom just as fully and brilliantly.