In the 1980s, Cyprien Katsaris lit up the recorded music landscape with his recording for Teldec of the complete nine symphonies of Beethoven in the superlative transcriptions of Franz Liszt, a landmark undertaking. As a contribution marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Franco-Cypriot pianist is offering us another bold project, a six-disc box set dedicated entirely to the Master of Bonn. This chronological “Beethovenian Odyssey” is comprised of particularly rare original works and transcriptions. It begins and ends with his very first and last works, enabling us to steep ourselves in the world of Beethoven and, by virtue of the solo piano, to wander through forty years of a creative life that left a deep impression on the history of music.
The journey begins with the Variations on a Theme of Dressler, composed by a twelve-year-old adolescent, heavily influenced by Mozart and Haydn, followed by the very first sonata composed by Beethoven a few months later, not the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 2, No. 1, written more than ten years later (also in this box set, further on), cited as the first in the catalogue of the composer’s works, but another, fairly short piece, in E-Flat Major, that of the future “Emperor”, the first of three “sonatas” composed between 1782 and 1783 and dedicated to the Prince-Elector of Cologne, Maximilian Francis of Austria. Then follows an almost unknown work, the Two Preludes Op. 39, surprisingly experimental. Throughout this box-set journey, Cyprien Katsaris has no qualms about visiting works that are seldom played, in keeping with the watchword for his Piano 21 label: he plays what he loves, with an ever-fresh sense of sharing and curiosity. Thus, he unveils for us a solo piano arrangement for the “Spring” and “Kreutzer” sonatas for piano and violin, the slow movements of the Sixth and Sixteenth Quartets of Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky, and the slow movement of Ninth Symphony in Wagner’s arrangement.
These transcriptions also shed light on a number of major figures of the musical world of the 19th Century in Europe, sometimes forgotten (Louis Winkler, Gustav Rösler), sometimes neglected (Carl Czerny, Anton Diabelli) and attest to the radiant, irresistible aura of Beethoven’s genius for at least a century.
Cyprien Katsaris certainly shares quantities of unpublished material here, but he does not neglect the more renowned side of Beethoven’s works, including in this programme eight of the thirty-eight sonatas (not least the most famous “Clair de Lune”, “The Tempest” and “Appassionata”). Everything you ever wanted to know about the greatness of Beethoven but never dared to ask can truly be found here.
Extensive booklet notes are written by Cyprien Katsaris.
Cyprien Katsaris, the French-Cypriot pianist and composer, was born on May 5th, 1951 in Marseilles. He first began to play the piano at the age of four, in Cameroon where he spent his childhood. He is a graduate of the Paris Conservatoire where he studied piano as well as chamber music. He gave his first public concert in Paris, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on 8 May 1966.
His major international career includes performances with the world’s greatest orchestras. He has collaborated with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Simon Rattle, Myung Whun Chung, Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Antal Doráti, Ivan Fischer, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt to name just a few. In addition to his activities as a soloist he founded the “Katsaris Piano Quintet”. This has received a very enthusiastic response from both the press and audiences in the Americas, Europe and Japan.
Mr. Katsaris has recorded extensively for Teldec, Sony Classical, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, BMG-RCA, Decca, Pavane, and now on his own label, PIANO 21. His discography consists of solo works by most of the greatest masters as well as works for piano and orchestra. In addition to the standard repertory, Cyprien Katsaris has recorded, as world premières, long lost works such as the Liszt/Tchaikovsky Concerto in the Hungarian style with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Beethoven’s own piano arrangement of his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus and Gustav Mahler’s original piano version of Das Lied von der Erde with Mezzo Brigitte Fassbaender and Tenor Thomas Moser.
Mr. Katsaris has been a member of the jury of numerous International Competitions.
He has also conducted many masterclasses all over the world.
For full details please visit www.cyprienkatsaris.net