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Siegfried Idyll / David Deveau

Release Date: 09/11/2015
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30051
Composer:  Franz Liszt ,  Richard Wagner ,  Johannes Brahms Performer:  David Deveau Number of Discs: 1

Deveau’s latest offering explores the interconnectedness of the lives and careers of three musical titans – Wagner, Liszt, and Brahms – juxtaposing Wagner and Liszt’s “music of the future” with the more traditional, established musical forms of Brahms.


Recorded December, 2014 at Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
Funded in part by the SHASS Fund, MIT
Producers: Janice Weber, David Deveau
Engineer: Tom Stephenson

Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Artwork: Dr. Michael Durst
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Piano Technician: Christine Lovgren


"On this
Read more recording, the pianist David Deveau gives a sensitive account of a fascinating solo piano transcription of Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll,” originally written for chamber orchestra as a birthday gift for Cosima, Wagner’s wife. The arrangement is by Josef Rubinstein, a devoted assistant to Wagner. It’s a revelation to hear this sublime, intimate work played on the piano. The harmonic and contrapuntal intricacies come through with beautiful transparency. The album also offers refined, accomplished performances of three Liszt works, including “Funérailles,” and a well-chosen selection of seven capriccios and intermezzos by Brahms."

-- Anthony Tommasini, NEW YORK TIMES [8/12/2015]

"This is the kind of award-winning classical piano man that’s for the serious classical listener. ... You have to sit down and pay attention because Deveau delights in tackling challenging works and bringing them home from left field without making the trip easy. A talented cat that plays right into the hands of those that really want it real — no matter what the genre.”

-- MidWest Record

David Deveau's 2015 release on Steinway & Sons is an homage to three of the major figures of 19th century Romanticism, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. The piano was essential to Liszt and Brahms, and their works remain central in the modern repertoire, though Wagner's few contributions to piano music were minor. Even the title piece, Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, originally composed for a small chamber orchestra, appears here in a piano transcription by Josef Rubinstein, so its place on the program among keyboard works by Liszt and Brahms seems odd indeed. That said, Deveau's sympathy for all three composers is strong, and he makes this recital feel genuinely Romantic and passionate without indulging in the excesses of rubato and inaccurate dynamics typical of the style. While his playing allows for more playfulness and flexibility of tempo in Brahms' Capriccios and Intermezzos, he never veers into exaggerated gestures or sentimentality, and controls the rhapsodic impulse with introspection, most affectingly in the Intermezzo in E flat major, Op. 117, No. 1.

-- AllMusic Guide

Pianist David Deveau divulges the idea behind this recording in the brief album notes, stating the three composers represented "were to greater and lesser degrees, interconnected". Liszt and Wagner, yes. But Wagner and Brahms? They were rivals and contemporaries, though Wagner was twenty years older. Each rather despised the other's music, not least because their styles were totally different. They met on only one occasion and about the only thing they had in common was the enormous size of their egos. That said, there's no need to justify placing their music on the same disc. Actually, the selections here are quite well chosen, even if the Wagner transcription by Josef Rubinstein, well-crafted and honest though it is, doesn't quite adapt well to the keyboard. Still, it's pleasant music and well played by Deveau. Moreover, there appears to be no other currently available performance on record. Wagner mavens may well find this an interesting take on the composer's most popular orchestral work.

Deveau's Liszt is well played too, though there is an instance where it doesn't quite rise to the fever pitch required: in Funérailles the dramatic octave-laced buildup in the second half gains sufficient momentum and power as it proceeds but seems to lose a bit of thrust and energy near the end. The two short Liszt pieces, Nuages gris and Am Grabe Richard Wagners, are very sensitively interpreted, the former work a rather overlooked masterpiece. It's especially haunting and ghostly sounding in this performance.

The seven selections from Brahms' Opp. 76, 117, 118 and 119 are all masterful pieces and brilliantly played by Deveau. He uses a little more rubato (try the B minor Capriccio, Op. 76 #2), as well as numerous changes in dynamics, but always with taste and subtlety. Clearly the pianist has thought out his interpretations in great detail, but never sounds calculating or cold. The C-sharp minor Capriccio, Op. 76 #5, is lovely and stately in Deveau's caressing chords and faultless dynamics. The A minor Intermezzo, Op. 118 #1, for once doesn't come across as austere and cold but rather passionate and even warm. The A major Intermezzo, Op. 118 #2, is another utterly lovely performance, and even the darker works, like the E-flat minor Intermezzo, Op. 118 #6, come across with a more palatable gloom, thanks to the pianist's intelligent and sensitive phrasing.

Steinway Classics has provided excellent sound reproduction in all selections, making this disc a most desirable acquisition for those with an interest in this repertory.

-- Classical.Net
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