DÕalbert, Carre–o

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COMPOSERS: Carre–o,D’albert
LABELS: Ars musici
WORKS: Suite, Op. 1; Bagatelles, Op. 29; Albumblatt
PERFORMER: Alexandra Oehler (piano)
The pianist-composer Eugen d’Albert was one of Liszt’s most famous pupils and a legendary interpreter of Beethoven’s piano music – though the music on this CD rapidly makes it clear that his greatest influence was probably Johannes Brahms. There is a great deal of German-tradition gravitas in this music – the Suite No. 1 transforms a Bachian structure with the full weight and grandeur of the late 19th century, and the Bagatelles and Albumblatt pay tribute respectively to Beethoven and Schumann. It’s all the more surprising, then, to discover that this musical powerhouse was actually born in Glasgow – something which seems to have made him all the more determined to accentuate his German heritage. The final piece on the disc is by the pianist Teresa Carreño, who was among d’Albert’s six wives (while he was her third husband) – its delicate and charming nature belies the ‘explosive end’ of their relationship. Alexandra Oehler’s playing is terrific: big, powerful, full-toned and fabulously matched to the monolithic solidity of much of the Suite Op. 1, yet able also to evoke the tenderer moments of the Bagatelles and Carreño’s waltz. The recorded sound is, happily, also excellent. Jessica Duchen