Following his internationally acclaimed recordings of rare works by Samuil Feinberg, Viktor Ullmann and Hans Winterberg (among them several world premiere recordings), pianist Christophe Sirodeau now turns to Johannes Brahms, and presents here a selection of 14 Intermezzi, a journey both poetic and mesmerising.
Christophe Sirodeau was born in 1970 in Paris. As a pianist, he studied with at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory under Evgeny Malinin. Since making his performing debut in 1982, he has performed a broad variety of repertoire in concert, recordings and broadcasts, specialising somewhat in the presentation of rarely heard music (Ullmann, Feinberg, Skalkottas, Kapralova for example). In the 1990s he undertook significant scholarly and performing work concerning Samuil Feinberg which resulted in the composer’s 1st Piano Concerto and a number of unpublished songs and piano works coming to light and receiving their first performances and recordings since the 1930s, and in some cases, their world premieres.
Christophe Sirodeau writes in the CD booklet:
My first contact with Brahms at the piano took place a little before my thirteenth birthday, when I studied in detail the first two Intermezzi of Op. 119 that open this recording with the renowned Michelangeli pupil Alberto Neuman. It was also in that year that I discovered Julius Katchen’s legendary complete recording of Brahms’ piano works, and I had already encountered Pollini’s revelatory account of the Op. 34 Quintet with the Quartetto Italiano. Shortly thereafter, during my semi-annual consultations with my teacher Evgeny Malinin (who had been overseeing my piano studies since I was eleven and a half, and continued to do so until I entered his class at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory), I wanted to play these two Intermezzi to him. He refused to hear them, arguing that “music written by the composer on his deathbed” was not appropriate for an adolescent. This was immensely frustrating, as at that time I had decided that Brahms was my “best friend” at the piano. To my fascination with Brahms may also be attributed the opening of the door to other musical discoveries including Mahler and the Second Viennese School – central to my orientation as a young composer, which had previously been dominated by Chopin, Schumann and Debussy.
But in fact, Brahms was far from his deathbed when he wrote these sublime pieces. After the disappointing episode with Malinin, my father gave me a comprehensive biography of the composer. This made it clear that the Klavierstücke Op. 116 to 119 date from 1892 and 1893 – not only five years before the composer’s death but also before that of the love of his life and recipient of the most intimate dedication of much of his music, Clara Schumann, who died in 1896. And the Op. 76 pieces date from 1871-78. Certainly, there is so much autumnal melancholy and a sense of gazing back over life in these pages that my teacher’s reaction is perfectly understandable. But here also is an abundance of light, calm, and serenity.
MLSCD011 The Lost Works of Samuil Feinberg & Hans Winterberg
BIS 1413 CD Samuil Feinberg Piano Sonatas 1 – 6
BIS 1414 CD Samuil Feinberg Piano Sonatas 7 – 12