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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Franz Schubert: Fantasie in F minor – Louis Lortie, Hélène Mercier (HD 1080p)

Louis Lortie made his third appearance on the stage of Koerner Hall in February of 2013, joined this time by fellow French-Canadian pianist, Helene Mercier.

Lortie and Mercier have been a piano team since the 1980s and have collaborated on a number of critically-acclaimed recordings. The ease that comes with years of playing and performing together was most evident in this concert, and the conclusion of their performance brought the Koerner Hall crowd to its feet.

Between January and April 1828, a few months before his death, Schubert wrote this last fantasy that seems to answer his first composition which bears the same title. But this time we are in the presence of a kind of testament. It is a farewell to numerous characters and to all the things Schubert loved.

With his incredible modesty he turned it into a fantasy which he dedicated to Karoline Esterhazy. In this dedication can be seen the reason behind his return to the piano for four hands; Schubert played countless hours with her when he was contracted as her private piano teacher some years before.

Schubert refined the innovative design of his earlier Fantasie in C (D.760), the so-called "Wanderer" fantasie, a virtuoso piano showpiece dating from 1822. Before Schubert, "Fantasie" usually implied improvisatory material and structural freedom, but the F minor Fantasie is a tightly constructed work in which four movements are fused into one, to be played without pause.

To open the duet, he abandoned the explosive bravura of the "Wanderer" in favor of an elegiac theme that is unforgettable after first encounter. The very beginning, Allegretto molto moderato, is simply haunting with it's murmuring accompaniment, and the higher voice laying out the wistful first theme. As with the "Wanderer" Fantasie, it may be considered a sonata form, with the Largo and Scherzo serving as development. This progression of movements proves Schubert a master of transition, as each seems to flow inevitably from what precedes. At the same time all sections of the piece are subtly related through the recurring appearance of dotted rhythms, the prevalence of the rising interval of the fourth, the characteristic Schubertian shifts between major and minor, and the use of ornamental trills.

The larger coherence of Schubert's structure is unmistakable when the haunting opening reappears to initiate the fourth section, acting as a recapitulation and leading to a fugue. The theme appears once more, in the coda, a final gesture of intimacy and longing before the heartwrenching dissonances of the closing measures. The four parts of this fantasy are less rigorous in their construction than the preceding fantasies, D.894 and D.934, but the work is surrounded with something like the echo of an inner richness to which one cannot remain indifferent. It is the breath of a desperate hope. Schubert played the piece himself with his good friend Franz Lachner on May 9, 1828.

Source: franzpeterschubert.com

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

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

i. Allegro molto moderato
ii. Largo
iii. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
iv. Finale. Allegro molto moderato

Louis Lortie & Hélène Mercier, piano

Koerner Hall, Toronto, February 2013

(HD 1080p)

French Canadian pianist Louis Lortie (b. 1959, Montreal) has extended his interpretative voice across a broad range of repertoire rather than choosing to specialize in one particular style. The London Times has identified the artist's "combination of total spontaneity and meditated ripeness that only great pianists have".

He is in demand internationally. In 2017-2018, he is Artist in Residence of the Shanghai Symphony and performs four different programs with them throughout the season. He performs with the OSESP Sao Paulo and the complete Liszt "Annees de Pelerinage" in recital for them. In Australia, Mr. Lortie performs with WASO/Perth and with the Adelaide Symphony. He performs Liszt "Annees" for the Chicago Symphony and for the annual Liszt Festival in Raiding, Hungary. There will be two Lortie recitals at London's Wigmore Hall and an extensive recital tour in Italy. He performs and records with Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony, was selected by Jaap Van Zweden to play Mozart K.466 for one of Mr. Van Zweden's final Dallas Symphony concerts as Music Director. He returns to the National Symphony Taipei, the Philadelphia Orchestra with Nézet-Séguin, the Toronto Symphony, Budapest Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. His play/conduct engagements are with great orchestras world-wide.

Louis Lortie's long-awaited LacMus International Festival on Lake Como, Italy, makes its debut July 9-16, 2017.

He has made more than 45 recordings for the Chandos label, covering repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky, including a set of the complete Beethoven sonatas and the complete Liszt "Annees de Pelerinage", which was named one of the ten best recordings of 2012 by the New Yorker Magazine.  His recording of the Lutosławski Piano Concerto with Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony received high praise, as did a recent Chopin recording (he is recording all of Chopin's solo piano music for Chandos), which was named one of the best recordings of the year by the New York Times. Recently released recordings are Chopin Waltzes ("This is Chopin playing of sublime genius" — Fanfare Magazine), Saint-Saëns' Africa, Wedding Cake, and Carnival of the Animals with Neeme Jarvi and the Bergen Philharmonic, and Rachmaninov's complete works for two pianos with Hélène Mercier. Future recordings are Poulenc works for piano and orchestra with the BBC Philharmonic, Fauré piano works, and Scriabin piano works. For the Onyx label, he has recorded two acclaimed CDs with violinist Augustin Dumay.

Mr. Lortie is the Master in Residence at The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel of Brussels. He studied in Montreal with Yvonne Hubert (a pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot), in Vienna with Beethoven specialist Dieter Weber, and subsequently with Schnabel disciple Leon Fleisher. In 1984, he won First Prize in the Busoni Competition and was also prizewinner at the Leeds Competition.  Mr. Lortie is a citizen of Canada and has homes in Montreal, Berlin and Italy.

Source: louislortie.com

Canadian pianist Hélène Mercier was born in Montreal in 1959. She began studying music at the Vincent d'Indy School of Music at age six, and at 15 she attended the Vienna Academy of Music. She pursued further studies with Sasha Gorodnitski at the Juilliard School and Pierre Sancan at the Paris Conservatoire. Mercier has performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Spivakov and the National Philharmonic of Russia, Seiji Ozawa and the New Japan Philharmonic, and Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, among many other orchestras. In chamber music, she has collaborated with Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon, Ivry Gitlis, Laurent Korcia, and Henri Demarquette, and performed in piano duets with Louis Lortie, Boris Berezovsky, Frank Braley, Brigitte Engerer, and Cyprien Katsaris. She has recorded for Chandos and Piano 21.

Source: Blair Sanderson (allmusic.com)

More photos

See also

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No.18 in G major "Fantasy" – Daniil Trifonov

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