Once in a while amid the glut of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff piano music available on CD, there comes a recording that makes the jaded listener sit up and smile.
One such album is Jeffrey Biegel’s A Grand Romance, a stunning album devoted to short pieces that have been unduly neglected.
With one stroke, Biegel has resuscitated some of the works that would have been integral to the repertoire of a bygone era’s pianists. Sadly, with a few exceptions, there is hardly anyone today who knows the names of these composers. They, as well as their music, have been relegated to the dustbin of lost memories.
Fortunately Biegel has seen the value in bringing a part of this repertoire to the attention of today’s listeners. Of this vast body of work, Biegel has chosen a small sampling of 16 tracks, and each is a delightful gem. They range from the lighthearted (Eduard Schütt’s “À la bien-aimée” from Papillons d’amour/Souvenirs viennois, op. 59, no. 2; and Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Nocturne from Miscellanea pour piano, op. 16, no. 4) to the virtuosic (Moritz Moszkowski’s Caprice espagnol, op. 37; and Abram Chasin’s “Rush Hour in Hong Kong” from Three Chinese Pieces, op. 5, no. 3).
Also particularly noteworthy is the willowy “Rêve angélique” from Anton Rubinstein’s Kammeniy-Ostrov, op, 10, no. 22; and the glistening Arabesken über Themen des Walzers “An der schönen blauen Donau” by Adolf Andrei Schulz-Evler.
Biegel is the right pianist for this repertoire. He has the innate musical sense to get to the essence of these pieces. His playing is notable for its wonderfully defined lyricism, beautifully phrased expressiveness and refined virtuosity – all of which allows him to give this music its due.
Each piece in this collection has something to delight the listener. It’s a tantalizing album that will make you fall in love with the piano all over again.