Montgeroult’s Piano Sonata No. 9 and 12 Etudes interpreted by Edna Stern

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COMPOSERS: Montgeroult
LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Montgeroult
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 9; 12 Etudes from Complete course for the instruction of the pianoforte
PERFORMER: Edna Stern (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ORC100063

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Hélène de Montgeroult was nothing if not resourceful. Imprisoned in revolutionary Paris, the aristocratic pianist-composer (1764-1836) improvised on La Marseillaise in front the Committee of Public Safety and won back her freedom – at least that’s how the story goes. What’s certain is that Montgeroult went on to become the first female professor at the Paris Conservatory, and to publish nine sonatas and the influential Complete course for the instruction of the pianoforte (1816), featuring 114 etudes. When you listen to Edna Stern’s moreish disc of Montgeroult’s music, it’s impossible not to wonder exactly why she’s been so neglected.

Here is a richly imaginative creative mind, as steeped in the contrapuntal glories of JS Bach as, say, Mendelssohn yet anticipating Chopin, as researcher Jérôme Dorival points out in his booklet notes. Stern, playing an 1860 Pleyel trumps Bruno Robilliard and Nicolas Stavy’s recordings for colour, style and panache. Textures shimmer in the Etude No. 37, the melody speaks eloquently in No. 26 and in the D minor Op. 107, the shades of Chopin’s Revoluationary Etude are made obvious.

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Rebecca Franks