LABELS: Toccata Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Reicha
WORKS: Complete piano music, Vol. 2: Fugues, Op. 81; Etude de piano ou 57 Variations sur un même thème suivies d’un Rondeau
PERFORMER: Henrik Lowenmark (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0017
The pianistic oeuvre of Anton Reicha (see ‘Background to’, left) is, for many people, undiscovered country, largely because it was overshadowed by Beethoven’s work. The two men were not only born in the same year, but played side by side – Reicha on the violin, Beethoven on the viola – in the Bonn court orchestra when they were 15; they remained friends in adulthood, with Reicha paying tribute to Beethoven’s music through his own compositions.
The fugues with which Henrik Löwenmark begins his second volume of Reicha recordings show the influence of Bach and Handel, but possess what Löwenmark describes as a more expressive language; Löwenmark delivers them with a ringing clarity.
The rest of this CD consists of 57 variations on a theme from an opera by Grétry. This work reflects an ambition comparable to Beethoven’s with the Diabellis, and it employs a similar musical vocabulary. But here the gulf between talent and genius is cruelly exposed: time and again one catches oneself wishing that this or that variation had been worked up by Beethoven, rather than by his well-meaning friend.