I've been working on this piece, on and off, for about 15 months. I was going to play it in a concert last year, but it wasn't ready and consequently I didn't get the chance to give it a public airing until now. I'm still not 100% happy with it, but I suppose it is quite tricky. The performance was a little frustrating - I had virtually no warmup time of any significance on the piano as the venue was rescheduled at the last minute - and there were people wandering in and out of the church hall, including up and down the central aisle
during the performance (very distracting to have that in your peripheral vision during all the crazy jumps at the end of the piece and I don't think I'm flattering myself to say I would have been more accurate without that going on). Anyway, I'm annoyed about that, enough excuses - time for something about the piece.
I'm presenting this mainly for two reasons:
Firstly because it's a very obscure composition which I have a lot of faith in musically and would like to share. There is very little time or respect given to Sigismund Thalberg's virtuoso paraphrases (of which he wrote dozens) nowadays, though he was a celebrated virtuoso and rival to Liszt in his time. A lot of his works are fairly typical of the time (he sits probably somewhere between Herz, Kalkbrenner et al and lesser, throwaway, Liszt) and often quite derivative, Kenneth Hamilton saying in his book "After the Golden Age": ".. numerous compositions (more impressive, admittedly, in their keyboard command than in other aspects of their inspiration)". This one I believe to be on a higher level; I find it both effective and skilfully written. I don't feel that it is a paraphrase in the grand Liszt manner but one in a more restrained, classical style and often surprisingly intimate.
Secondly I would be genuinely grateful for comments on the sound quality. I recorded it with my intended future recorder and microphone combination (though not on my piano of choice - it was in the previously intended venue which became unavailable at short notice.) There has been no post-processing or editing done - I would be so tempted to edit a few spots and tidy up some rough spots if I had the option but my rehearsal recording is on a different piano with different equipment and I think the effect would be rather odd
Here's video of the performance; an mp3 is attached below.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sADEtVnAvWM
I profoundly wish that Earl Wild had extended his list of lesser-known composer recordings by adding this piece (he was the man, imo, for pieces such as this which require a combination of elegance and bravura); as it is I can, for comparative listening purposes, only find this on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMnz_FzDGUk
(pf. Hiroshi Takasu, from a CD recording, and imo it is highly eccentric).
Thanks for listening, and any comments and opinions would be most welcome.Verdi-Thalberg - Fantasy on La Traviata