Title - 'Charles Gounod: Piano Works'
Artist - Roberto Prosseda
For those not in the classical know, Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust. Another opera by Gounod occasionally still performed is Roméo et Juliette.
Gounod died at Saint-Cloud in 1893, after a final revision of his twelve operas. His funeral took place ten days later at the Church of the Madeleine, with Camille Saint-Saëns playing the organ and Gabriel Fauré conducting. He was buried at the Cimetière d'Auteuil in Paris.
Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho, in 1851 at the urging of his friend, the singer Pauline Viardot; it was a commercial failure. He had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), derived from Goethe.
This remains the composition for which he is best known; and although it took a while to achieve popularity, it became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time, with no fewer than 2,000 performances of the work having occurred by 1975 at the Paris Opéra alone.
The romantic and melodious Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet), premiered in 1867, is revived now and then but has never come close to matching Faust's popular following. Mireille, first performed in 1864, has been admired by connoisseurs rather than by the general public.
In truth, the other Gounod operas have fallen into oblivion.
This brand new album from Decca Records / Universal Music Classics, Charles Gounod: Piano Works is a celebration of the 200th birthday of the aforementioned French composer Charles Gounod.
He composed about forty piano pieces in all, and this collection of a number of them allows us to appreciate their charm and expressive variety.
Performed by Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda, the release contains a number of world premieres, alongside Gounod’s more famous pieces such as Méditation sur le 1er prélude de J. S. Bach (1852), later known as Ave Maria and Marche funèbre d’une marionette, popularized by its use as a television theme tune.
The album is supported by the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française, favoring the rediscovery of the French musical heritage of the long nineteenth century (1780-1920). It is housed in Venice in a palazzo dating from 1695, specially restored for the purpose.
La Veneziana (Barcarolle)
Souvenance (Nocturne) *
Marche Funèbre d'une Marionette
Six Romances Sans Paroles *
Méditation sur le 1er Prélude de piano de J.S. Bach (Ave Maria)
Six Préludes et Fugues
Sonate Pour à Quatre Mains *
* World Premiere Recording
To my mind, Roberto Prosseda was one of the finest, and wisest choices to take control of such a set of compositions. He began composing for the piano at the age of four, and took his first private piano lessons at six.
In 1985, he entered the Conservatorio Ottorino Respighi in Latina, where he studied piano with Anna Maria Martinelli, graduating in 1994. He went on to study with Alexander Lonquich, Boris Petrushansky and Franco Scala at the Accademia Pianistica "Incontri col Maestro" in Imola.
Simply put, Prosseda knows exactly what he's doing when it comes to works like these and, better yet, he has had the spirit of Gounod (and others akin) within him from a very, very early age.