It gives Tanguy de Williencourt and me great pleasure to present this programme devoted to Beethoven and Schubert, which moreover allows us to continue our exploration of the music of German-speaking composers.
When we first broached the idea of making a recording, it seemed apt to us to include the cello transcription of the "Kreutzer" Sonata made by Czerny. An absolute masterpiece in its original scoring, this work is in my view equally successful in its alternative guise. Beyond enriching the cello repertoire with a "sixth" Beethoven sonata, the work is thrilling to perform, notwithstanding its considerable technical challenges.
Granted, we could have chosen from among the five canonical sonatas for cello and piano; clearly these are works of genius in their own right, but the power of the "Kreutzer" Sonata captivated me to a much greater degree from the start. Upon discovering the Czerny transcription, I had the urgent desire and need to perform it. Having had several opportunities to present the transcription in recital, Tanguy and I were pleasantly surprised by the response: audiences became intrigued and proved most enthusiastic.
The Arpeggione Sonata is another matter entirely. However, this too is a transcription, played in the key of A (the tonality of A minor here and A major elsewhere forms another unifying thread). Schubert is a model of musical thinking for me, my constant companion and mentor. From my earliest years, his music has been with me, in my moments of happiness as well as at a time of difficulty; his genius was immediately self-evident, and his capacity to depict the human soul in all its guises was disarming in its simplicity. When we feel joyful, his music can intensify joy; when we experience sadness or sorrow, he manages to bring comfort, heal the wounds and lessen the pain.
This then was the genesis of the present programme, shaped by our curiosity, our thirst for challenges and our affection for the repertoire recorded here. Is there a better way to make one's entrance than in the company of Schubert and Beethoven? Are there happier companions for a debut recording? I think not. One might question the validity of releasing this disc today when much of this repertoire is already available in excellent readings by gifted performers, whose talent is renowned and venerated. The current project is the culmination of a cherished dream born of my deep affection for these works. It is also part of my endeavour to put all my faculties in the service of this music (some of the greatest ever written), as so many performers have done before me.
I realise this is a gamble and I accept the risks: our encounter with the Kreutzer and Arpeggione Sonatas has been hugely stimulating and rewarding for us. And it is now our sincere hope that you, our listeners, will derive as much joy from hearing this disc as we have had in preparing and making it. Until we meet again, in recital or via our next recording, we invite you to enjoy it!
I wish to express my gratitude to harmonia mundi and its entire staff (Christian, Patricia, Jean-Marc along with many others) for their confidence in me; to Alban Moraud for his confidence and the pleasure we derived from working with him; to Clément and Clémentine at L'Agence Artist Management for their support, trust and day-to-day efforts; to my teachers M. Mille, Y. Chiffoleau, R. Pidoux, J. Pernoo, C. Hagen, F. Helmerson; to C. Eschenbach in particular for his invaluable advice and close involvement in our musical activities; to the Beare's International Violin Society (Maja, So-Ock); to Manon, Bertrand, Jérôme D. and to my parents, to whom I dedicate this recording: to Bernard, the pieces by Beethoven, who was his favourite composer, and to Martine, those by Schubert whom she adored as much as I've come to love him today.
Source: Bruno Philippe | Translation: Mike Sklansky (CD Booklet)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
♪ Sonata for violin & piano No.9 "Kreutzer", Op.47 (1802-1803), transcription for cello and piano by Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
i. Adagio sostenuto – Presto
ii. Andante con variazioni
iii. Finale. Presto
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
♪ Nacht und Träume, D.827 (1825)
♪ Der Jüngling und der Tod, D.545 (1817)
♪ Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D.821 (1824)
i. Allegro moderato
♪ Ständchen, D.889 (1826)
Bruno Philippe, cello
Tanguy de Williencourt, piano
Recorded on April 1-2 & 4-5, 2017, at La Courroie, Entraigues-sur-la-Sorgue, France
Bruno Philippe plays a fine Tononi cello kindly loaned to him through the Beare's International Violin Society.
Tanguy de Williencourt plays a piano Steinway prepared by Bruno Vincent from Piano Pulsion Avignon.
harmonia mundi 2017
(HD 1080p – Audio video)
Before the advent of radio broadcasts and sound recording, the best way for a composer to disseminate his music was to make arrangements of it for additional types of scoring beyond that of the original. This practice could involve a variety of scenarios ranging from faithful transcriptions to fantasias, variations and most fanciful paraphrases, particularly when the source material was operatic arias. Ludwig van Beethoven – whose every note was penned only after weighty consideration – did not look kindly upon such practices, preferring to exercise iron control over his musical material. Nonetheless he did leave behind a few arrangements of his own compositions, while delegating the task of arranging other of his works to his pupils Carl Czerny and Ferdinand Ries. Notably Ludwig did succumb to the fashion for variations: for the combination of cello and piano alone, he left three sets taking their themes from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus (WoO 45) and Mozart's The Magic Flute (WoO 46 and op.66).
A remarkable virtuoso in his own right, Carl Czerny (in addition to his abundant output of piano etudes) was tasked by Beethoven to prepare piano reductions of several of his compositions, starting with the nine symphonies. It is not known whether the transcriptions of the Kreutzer Sonata were prepared at the composer's request, but one could imagine he sanctioned them. Czerny started with a reduction for piano solo (published in 1837); then around 1822 he made the present version for cello and piano, at the time intended for Josef Lincke, who premiered the Cello Sonatas Nos. 4 and 5. Published by Simrock around 1856, it was promptly forgotten – until its 1990s re-discovery by Dimitry Markevitch, who came across it in a second-hand bookshop and subsequently prepared its first modern-day edition.
Both Beethoven and Czerny commented on the monumental stature and unusual "concertante" character of this work. Composed for the British virtuoso George Bridgetower, who premiered it in May of 1803 with Beethoven at the keyboard, the sonata was eventually dedicated to Rudolf Kreutzer, after George and Ludwig had had a falling out. Although the dedicatee never deigned to perform it and found the music unintelligible, his name lives on thanks to the title of Leo Tolstoy's 1889 novella which became the subject of countless stage and film adaptations and tributes (including a string quartet by Leoš Janáček).
The Sonata's larger-than-life character can be witnessed right from the start in its very opening movement (in the key of A minor), which features three themes and takes impressive liberties: its slow introduction, development section and coda continually break all the rules with their startling harmonic and emotional shifts. The middle movement, in F major, is in the form of a theme with four variations. It serves to relieve the tension generated by the opening, although the writing remains intricate, and it leads right into the galloping Finale, in A major. The adjustments made by Czerny concern the cello part alone in order to accommodate the new instrument's tessitura and tuning.
In his "Arpeggione" Sonata, composed in November of 1824, Franz Schubert follows a tonal progression not unlike that of the Kreutzer Sonata (from A minor to A major). This work is similarly "on loan" from another repertoire: that of the "arpeggione", a kind of bowed guitar invented by the Viennese instrument-maker Johann Georg Stauffer and briefly popular in the 1820s. The Sonata was most likely intended for Schubert's friend Vincenz Schuster, the sole known champion of the arpeggione. Its rapid obsolescence consigned the sonata to oblivion. After the work's publication in 1871, when the vogue for the instrument had long passed, the Sonata was quickly appropriated by viola players and cello players. Here we are far removed from the titanic battles of the Kreutzer Sonatas: instead the soundscape is lyrical and enchanting. As in his violin sonatas, Schubert embraces a showy virtuosity he rarely exhibits elsewhere. With assured mastery he deploys the ample tessitura particular to the six-string arpeggione. Each of the movements sparkles with musical ideas, turning the opening Allegro moderato and especially the closing Allegretto into an exuberant kaleidoscope of colours. The middle movement, the Adagio in E, is filled with his distinctive long-arching phrases which hesitate between major and minor modes; perhaps these fleeting clouds reflect the turmoil felt by the composer, whose mental and physical state was being undermined as a side effect of a treatment for syphilis, in essence a gradual mercury poisoning.
On July 3, 1822, Schubert, aged 25, wrote a short confessional text entitled Mein Traum (My Dream) in which he evoked the wounds he had been nursing since childhood – the rift with his father, the untimely death of his mother. We learn about his hunger for love, about his loneliness, his retreat into nature, about the troubling contiguity between joy and sorrow, between ecstasy and death. So many of these themes find a constant echo in the 600 plus art-songs he composed between 1811 and 1828: "Through long, long years, I sang my songs", he continues in Mein Traum. Yet in his music, Schubert is able to transcend the words he is setting: "But when I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wanted to sing of sorrow, it turned into love".
The three song transcriptions presented here illustrate this point admirably. Composed in March of 1817 to a text by Joseph von Spaun, Der Jüngling und der Tod (The Young Man and Death) adopts the format of a short dramatic scene which unfolds in twilight tones. The young man of the title seeks liberation in death, and his call is answered with open arms. In the second setting he made of the poem a few days after the first, Schubert adds a weighty marching step to the accompaniment just before Death's final reply; here we are reminded of another "grim reaper", the one from "Death and the Maiden" (and the string quartet, the second movement of which derives from the song melody).
In Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams), to a text by Matthäus von Collin, the narrator seeks consolation from the night. The outcome seems to be fixed, and resignation must follow: the tempo is very slow ("sehr langsam"), the dynamic marking is "pianissimo"; long vocal phrases float over a rocking accompaniment which hardly varies from beginning to end. In Ständchen (Serenade), to a text by Ludwig Rellstab, the night is an ally: observed only by the moon above, the lover at last finds the courage to ask for his lady's heart. This celebrated song comes from the Schwanengesang (Swan Song), the song cycle assembled from settings Schubert made between August and October 1828 and published after his death.
Source: Claire Delamarche | Translation: Mike Sklansky (CD Booklet)
Bruno Philippe was born in 1993 in Perpignan, France. There, he began studying the cello with Marie-Madeleine Mille and regularly attended Yvan Chiffoleau's masterclasses. In 2008, he pursued his studies at the CRR in Paris in the class of Raphael Pidoux. In 2009 he was unanimously accepted by the Paris National Conservatory of Music and Dance in the class of Jerome Pernoo and joined Claire Desert's chamber music class. Subsequently, he participated in the masterclasses of David Geringas, Steven Isserliss, Gary Hoffman, Pieter Wispelwey and Clemens Hagen at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Since October 2014, he has been studying as a young soloist at the Kronberg Academy with Frans Helmerson.
In November 2011, he won the third Grand Prix and the Best recital at the André Navarra International Competition. In September 2014, he won the third prize and audience prize at the International Competition of the ARD in Munich. He won a Special Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in June 2015 and the Special Prize in recognition of an outstanding performance at the Grand Prix Emmanuel Feuermann in Berlin in November 2014. In 2015, Bruno Philippe was appointed Révélation Classique of the ADAMI, and in 2016, he won the Prix pour la musique of the Safran Foundation dedicated to cello. In 2017, he is laureate of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.
Bruno Philippe has been invited to appear at the Kammersaal of the Berlin Philharmonia, La Cité de la Musique, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Halle aux Grains in Toulouse, the Kursaal in Besançon, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and to play with the Bayerische Rundfunk, the Münchener Kammerorchestrer, the Orchestre Philarmonique de Monte-Cazrlo, or else the Orchestre National du Capitole, Toulouse. He has also performed at the Festival Pablo Casals in Prades, the Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence, La Folle Journée de Nantes, the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, the Festival Radio France de Montpellier, at La Roque d'Anthéron, the Amsterdam Cello Biennale, the Mozartfest Würzburg, the Munich BR Studio, Schwetzinger SWR-Festspiele, the Rheingau Musik Festival...
He has also had the chance to play with many renowned musicians: Gary Hoffman, Tabea Zimmermann, Gidon Kremer, Christian Tetzlaff, David Kadouch, Alexandra Conounova, Renaud Capuçon, Jérôme Ducros, Antoine Tamestit, Sarah Nemtanu, Lise Berthaud, Christophe Coin, Jérôme Pernoo, Raphaël Pidoux, Emmanuelle Bertrand, as well as Violoncelles Français or Les Dissonances (David Grimal).
During the next few months, Bruno Philippe can be seen in concertos, above all with the Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt and Orchesterakademy of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, with the Orchestre Dijon-Bourgogne conducted by Gabor Takacs-Nagy, with the Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine or else the Junges Sinfonieorchester Münster. He will be performing at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, the Alte Oper in Francfort, Salle Cortot in Paris, the Festival de Pâques de Deauville, the Chorégies d'Orange, or else Les Victoires de la Musique Classique at the Auditorium de Radio-France, Paris.
His first album, devoted to Brahms's Sonatas, recorded with the pianist Tanguy de Williencourt for the Evidence Classic label, came out in 2015. In 2017 he joins the label Harmonia Mundi and releases a new album around Beethoven and Schubert's sonatas, with Tanguy de Williencourt.
He was also awarded scholarships from the Safran Foundation for music, the Raynaud-Zurfluh Foundation, the Rheingold Foundation, the AMOPA, the Banque Populaire Foundation, and in August 2014 won the Nicolas Firmenich price at the Verbier Festival. He also received the support of the "Christa Verhein-Stiftung" for his studies at the Kronberg Academy.
Bruno Philippe plays a fine Tononi cello kindly loaned to him through the Beare's International Violin Society.
A true Renaissance musician, the French pianist Tanguy de Williencourt (b. 1990) is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician, who is also pursuing studies as a conductor.
After having completed, in 2013, his Master's degrees in piano, accompaniment and vocal coaching with highest honors at the Paris Conservatoire, he entered the prestigious Artist Diploma Programme there, and was admitted to follow Alain Altinoglu's orchestral conducting class. The pianists who have particularly influenced him include Roger Muraro, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, and Claire Désert.
Besides, advice of Maria João Pires, Christoph Eschenbach and Paul Badura-Skoda particularly impact him.
A recipient in 2014 of the Blüthner Foundation award given annually to one outstanding pianist at the Paris Conservatoire, Tanguy has also been a prize winner at the Yamaha (2008) and Fauré (2013) competitions.
Tanguy's solo and chamber music performances have taken him to the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, Kyoto's Alti Hall in Kyoto, St Peterburg Philharmonic's Great Hall or Berlin Philharmonic's Chamber Music Hall, and to leading French venues including the Folle Journée de Nantes, Chopin à Bagatelle, La Roque d'Anthéron, or else to the French National Radio.
His first record dedicated to Brahms and Schumann with cellist Bruno Philippe was released in 2015.
Johannes Brahms & Robert Schumann: Works for cello and piano – Bruno Philippe, Tanguy de Williencourt (Audio video)
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Bruno Philippe, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, Stéphane Denève (HD 1080p)
Francis Poulenc: Sonate pour violoncelle et piano – Bruno Philippe, Tanguy de Williencourt (HD 1080p)
Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.1 in C major – Bruno Philippe, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Christoph Eschenbach (HD 1080p)