A Grand Romance is a tribute to piano miniatures. There are 16 of them on this album by pianist Jeffrey Biegel, whose first two recordingss on the Steinway label, Bach on a Steinway and A Steinway Christmas Album, are heard regularly on Classical WETA.
The recording is a celebration of the sentimental appeal of music for enjoying in the concert hall and at the family piano in the parlor. Starting with the earliest work, we find Adolf von Henselt’s “Si oiseau j’étais” from the Douze études caractéristiques de concert of 1837. One of the characteristic features here is the heavy use of French titles by composers of other nationalities. Other examples of this include Eduard Schütt’s “À la bien-aimée” from Papillons d’amour/Souvenirs viennois and Anton Rubinstein’s “Rêve angélique.”
Many of the composers represented here are anything but household names, such as Sergei Eduardovich Bortkiewicz, Paul de Schlözer, and Giovanni Sgambati. There is a selection here by a former music director of radio station WQXR, Abram Chasins, and an extended fantasy on Johann Strauss, Jr.’s “By the Beautiful Blue Danube” by the Polish-born composer Adolf Andrei Schulz-Evler.
All the selections are brought to life with impeccable technique and heartfelt artistry by Biegel, who pays tribute with this recording to his “musical grandfather,” Josef Lhevinne. Of Lhevinne, the legendary Artur Rubinstein said, “[he] could move his listeners to tears by the sheer beauty of his tone.” Join us this week to enjoy representative works of “a genre of pianism unashamed of sentiment, frill and facility.”