'… brimful with alert character and beauty whilst the two piano pieces are delightful in their raucous melodies … briliantly done by Tanyel' (Classical Net Review). It was brave and useful and laudable of Seta Tanyel and the now-defunct label Collins Classics to have embarked, in the 1990s, in a thorough exploration of the music of Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), and one must be grateful to Hyperion to have reissued almost all of it. The 4-volume traversal of his solo piano music doesn't embrace I think Scharwenka's complete piano output, but it is still very substantial. Add to that the three first piano concertos (apparently Collins didn't live long enough to record the Fourth, and the first is the one disc that Hyperion did not reissue, Piano Concerto 1, obviously because they already had another one in their catalog, Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1) and what I think was the complete chamber music. However, I didn't always feel that the results lived up to the project's promises.
'Tanyel's clear enthusiasm for this unhackneyed programme is utterly refreshing … The performance reminds us again just how well she understands the piano's Romantic repertoire' (Classic CD). 'the music here could hardly be more sympathetically presented than by Tanyel, whose performances are immaculate in their musicianship and virtuosity' (Gramophone). Seta Tanyel, the Armenian pianist, demonstrates a flair for the virtuosic style of German-Polish Scharwenka. She projects a well-rounded tone, a flexible sense of rhythm, a seamless technique, a fertile imagination and a daring panache. She seems to genuinly love these beautiful, light-hearted compositions. Scharwenka's music (who lived in the States for seven years) possesses energy, harmonic interest, strong rhythm, many beautiful melodies and much Polish national character. A highly enjoyable recording.
'Scharwenka could not have been better served. He deserves no less' (International Record Review). 'The recorded sound has all the freshness needed for this music' (Pianist). Many young pianists of my generation cut their teeth on one or another of Xaver Scharwenka's Polish Dances; he composed about thirty of them. The Op. 3, No. 1 was immensely popular, selling millions of copies and that's the one I learned to play when I was about ten or so. On this release are the two Polish Dances, Op. 29, and they are mazurkas in all but name. They are lively and set your toe tapping as played by Seta Tanyel.
'The recorded sound has all the freshness needed for this music' (Pianist). 'Seta Tanyel plays her well-contrasted selection with obvious affection and persuasive charm … playing of outstanding drive and verve' (International Record Review). Hyperion's series of the solo piano music of Xaver Scharwenka (reissued from Collins), played by Seta Tanyel, is worth getting to know for everyone who appreciates romantic piano music. It reveals Scharwenka as a deft craftsman with plenty of good ideas and deep knowledge of how to utilize the potential of his instrument to full effect. Volume 1, however, is far from the strongest installment in the series, and if you started with this one, were disappointed and decided to stop investigating, I encourage you to reconsider - volume 2, for instance, is definitely superior (though Scharwenka's concertos and chamber works are superior still).
With his idiomatic and graceful style, pianist Philip Martin has established himself as the foremost exponent of Gottschalk. Much of his music is by no means easy to play; it requires an impeccable technique matched with Èlan and joie de vivre for its most effective execution. Although not essentially a great composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk had a unique spontaneity and individuality which Martins performances bring vividly to the fore. The composers music was hugely popular during his lifetime and his works display a real melodic charm and a great sense of fun. Each of the eight discs in Martins extensive Gottschalk series has received wide acclaim and left pianophiles eagerly awaiting the next issue.