Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Franz Schubert: Fantasia in F minor, Allegro in A minor "Lebensstürme", Sonata in C major "Grand Duo" – Ismaël Margain & Guillaume Bellom (Audio video)

"Friendship and complicity" could have been the title of this recording, made by two fine young musicians, both aged only 20.

Ismaël Margain (prize-winner in the Long-Thibaud competition 2012) and Guillaume Bellom (piano prize, Besançon Young Musicians competition 2008) illustrate the intimacy and the close sharing of musical pleasure that are major features of Schubert's piano duets. The composer produced thirty-two original compositions for piano four hands that include some of the finest ever written, among which are the three masterpieces presented here: highly Romantic, almost symphonic works, with stormy episodes and poignant melodies of which melancholy is a dominant feature.

Revealed by the Deauville Festival and the Polignac Foundation, this talented young duo, with its rare, and heart-warming, complicity, will undoubtedly go far.


Γεννημένοι και οι δύο το 1992, οι ταλαντούχοι και βραβευμένοι Γάλλοι πιανίστες Ismaël Margain και Guillaume Bellom ερμηνεύουν, με την απαιτούμενη μεταξύ τους οικειότητα, τρία από τα πιο διάσημα έργα για πιάνο για 4 χέρια του Φραντς Σούμπερτ, μεταδίδοντας με τον πιο άμεσο τρόπο στον ακροατή τη δική τους μουσική απόλαυση.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

♪ Fantasia in F minor, D.940, Op. posth. 103 (1828)

♪ Allegro in A minor "Lebensstürme", D.947, Op. posth. 144 (1828)

♪ Sonata in C major "Grand Duo", D.812, Op. posth. 140 (1824)

i. Allegro moderato
ii. Andante
iii. Scherzo: allegro vivace
iv. Allegro vivace

Ismaël Margain & Guillaume Bellom, piano

Cortambert de la Fondation Singer-Polignac, July 2012

Aparté 2013

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

Franz Schubert is the author of some of the finest compositions ever written for piano duet (four hands at one keyboard), a genre that particularly appealed to him, like the lied, for its intimacy and the close sharing of musical pleasures that it represented. In all, he composed thirty-two original piano duets.

At the heart of his output for four hands are two "triptychs". The first one was written in the summer of 1824, during the composer's second stay on the Esterházy estate at Zseliz, then in Hungary (it is now Zeliezovce in Slovakia). Aged twenty-seven at that time, he was just emerging from a long period of depression and despair of ever achieving recognition as a composer in Vienna. The stay at Zseliz, taking him away from the capital for a while, afforded him an opportunity to recover his strength. He was engaged as music master to the two young daughters of Count Johann Esterházy, Caroline and Marie, both of whom were pianists, and he was expected to produce works suitable for the intimate setting of the family's summer residence; it is hardly surprising therefore that he composed piano duets there.

From that period dates one of Schubert's major piano works, the Sonata in C major "Grand Duo", D.812, Op. posth. 140, written in July 1824, a composition that has given rise to many theories, including the possibility that it is in fact a sketch for a lost symphony. That same summer he also wrote the eight Variations on an Original Theme in A flat major, D.813, Οp.35, and the Divertissement à la hongroise in G minor, D.818, Οp.54.

Four years later, Schubert composed his other great "triptych", comprising the famous Fantasia in F minor, D.940, Op. posth. 103, the Allegro in A minor "Lebensstürme", D.947, Op. posth. 144, and the Rondo in A major "Grand Rondo", D. 951, Οp.107. Written a few months before his death, these were his last works in the genre.

The title "Lebensstürme" (The storms of life) is not Schubert's; it was added later by Diabelli of Vienna, when he published the work in 1829, a year after the composer’s death. From the first chords in the extreme registers of the piano, the Allegro shows a turbulence that contrasts with the serenity of a second subject expressed in the manner of a distant chorale and leaving far behind any notion of storms.

The Fantasia in F minor is surely the finest piano duet that Schubert ever wrote, and possibly the finest that anyone has ever written. Composed between January and April 1828, it is dedicated to Caroline Esterházy, with whom Schubert had fallen in love several years previously; but with his penury and low social position he was obviously not a suitable match for a young aristocrat. How can we not see in this very poetic work the expression of private sentiments? The Fantasia was first performed by Schubert and Franz Lachner on 9 May 1828, at one of the famous Schubertiades.

Source: CD Booklet

Ismaël Margain was born in 1992 in Sarlat (Dordogne), where he began his musical training (piano, flute, saxophone, jazz, composition, etc.). The pianist and conductor Vahan Mardirossian, with whom he worked from the age of eight, presented him to his own teacher, Jacques Rouvier, who coached him for entrance to the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM). Received unanimously, he entered Nicholas Angelich's class, then that of Roger Muraro.

After winning his first competition at the age of seven at "Les Musicales de Caen", Ismaël Margain went on to reap other awards, and in 2011 he won the "Génération SPEDIDAM" International Competition in Aix-en-Provence, receiving his diploma from Aldo Ciccolini, chairman of the jury, following his performance, in the final, of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, conducted by George Pehlivanian. The latter immediately invited the young pianist to play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major under his baton at the Le Touquet International Music Masters 2012. Ismaël came to the notice of the general public in December 2012, when he played Mozart's Piano Concerto No.23 with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France on stage at the Opéra Comique in Paris in the final of the Long-Thibaud Competition, in which he won Third Prize and also the Public Prize.

In 2011 Limoges Opéra asked him to put together a programme in tribute both to Franz Liszt, for the bicentenary of his birth, and to one of his favourite composers, Franz Schubert. Ismaël was then invited to take part in various festivals, including those of Deauville, Albi ("Tons voisins"), Prades (Pablo Casals), Paris (Chopin), Toulouse (Piano aux Jacobins), Caracas (European Soloists) and the Ruhr Piano Festival in Germany. He has also been heard in recital at the Palais de l'Athénée in Geneva.

Ismaël Margain was awarded a bursary by the Clos de Vougeot Music Festival 2012 (Côte d'Or, Burgundy) and formed an ensemble for the occasion with soloists from the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He performs regularly at the Fondation Singer-Polignac in Paris, where he has been artist in residence since 2012.

His first solo album, dedicated to Schubert, was released in early 2017. His great interest in chamber music, shared with his friend Guillaume Bellom, lead them into joining various ensembles such as those performing at the Deauville Festival of Music. They play piano four-hands together and have recorded two discs, dedicated to Mozart and Shubert, under the label Aparte/Harmonia Mundi.

Guillaume Bellom (b. 1992) studied piano and violin from the age of six at the Besançon Conservatoire (CRR), where in 2008 he was awarded prizes for piano, violin and chamber music.

In 2009, he was unanimously admitted to the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM), where he joined the piano class of Nicholas Angelich and Romano Pallottini. He also studied under Franck Braley, Marie-François Bucquet, Dominique Merlet, Dany Rouet, Denis Pascal, Leon Fleisher and Jean-Claude Pennetier. He is currently furthering his studies with Hortense Cartier-Bresson.

In 2011 he also joined the violin class of Roland Daugareil, Suzanne Gessner and Christophe Poiget at the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM).

Guillaume Bellom was winner of the piano prize in the Besançon "Jeunes Musiciens" competition in 2008, following which he performed the Grieg Piano Concerto and the First Piano Concerto of Brahms with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Besançon.

He is often heard on radio (France Musique, in programmes presented by Phillipe Cassard and Arièle Butaux), and he performs regularly at the Fondation Singer-Polignac in Paris, where he has been artist in residence since 2012.

His interest in chamber music has led to appearances at festivals including those of Deauville (Festival de Pâques and Août Musical). He also plays sonatas with his brother, the cellist Adrien Bellom (Chambéry Bel-Air Claviers Festival, "Printemps des Alizés" in Essaouira, Morocco, etc.). Recently, with Amaury Coeytaux (violin) and Victor Julien-Laferrière (cello), he gave the first performance of Danse encore, a trio by the composer and pianist Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, at the Chapelle du Méjan in Arles.

In 2014, Guillaume performed in the Animal Carnival by Saint-Saens at the Champs-Elysées concert hall in Paris, and won a prize at the Rhine Gold Foundation. In 2015, he won the first prize at the international piano competition of Epinal, France. In 2016, he won the first prize of the Thierry Scherz competition in Gstaad, Switzerland. His first solo album, featuring pieces by Schubert, Haydn and Debussy, was released in early 2017. His great interest in chamber music, shared with his friend Ismaël Margain, lead them into joining various ensembles such as those performing at the Deauville Festival of Music. They play piano four-hands together and have recorded two discs dedicated to Mozart and Shubert under the label Aparte/Harmonia Mundi.

See also

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Andante and Variations in G major, Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in C major, Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in F major – Guillaume Bellom & Ismaël Margain (Audio video)

Guillaume Bellom plays Franz Schubert, Joseph Haydn & Claude Debussy (Download 48kHz/16bit)

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