Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cyprien Katsaris in Brussels

   In the crowd of distinguished pianists of the last decades, one has a special position founded on the excellent technique and creative approach. Cyprien Katsaris is the artist with modern sensitiveness for musical semantics and formal construction, gifted with capability to narrative shaping interpretations. This born in Marseille, French-Cypriot pianist is exceptional phenomenon in concert and recorded music. His competence comprises the whole range of pianistic tradition. But what makes him really great artist is a special and very deep understanding of the romantic spirit. His recordings of Liszt, his Chopin recitals, and his virtuoso performances of symphonic works in romantic transcriptions make perfectly clear he is congenial interpreter of Liszt and Chopin music.
   Shortly after his 15th birthday, he debuted in Paris Théâtre des Champs-Élysées performing Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasy which is composer’s arrangement of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 14 for piano and orchestra. The first decade after Cyprien Katsaris’ debut was the time of establishing his virtuoso position and performing experiences of concert pianist. His position has been confirmed by many awards in renowned competitions in 70’s. Among the probably most significant is the title of Prize-winner at the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition 1972 in Brussels. For this extremely difficult competition he prepared ambitious program. Recorded June 6th, 1972 in Brussels and published by Decca album is valuable document of young Katsaris live performances. 

Cyprien Katsaris in Brussels (1972)

   The Decca album is convincing the virtuoso efficiency and ideal sense of style are qualities he presented since his earliest recordings. It’s significant he chose two sonatas by two composers he consecutively recorded in next decades. The two are also totally different musical worlds Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ferenz Liszt. Mozart’s Sonata B-flat Major KV 333, known also as No. 13, was composed probably in 1783. This three part work is perfect classical style performed with intellectual distance and clever distance. Sweet, well modeled phrases show the perfect balance of interpretation as well as one side of young Katsaris. Last part Allegretto grazioso includes few moments giving artist a chance for expressing some more emotional and personal content than most of classical sonatas. And Cyprien Katsaris made use of this possibility.
   The second side of the record is also the second side of pianistic universe. Sonata B Minor by Franz Liszt is not only one of most difficult works for performing but also for interpretation. Cyprien Katsaris played this huge work with bravery, giving show of piano artistry. Climax of Sonata B Minor in Katsaris interpretation is one of most haunting moments in romantic piano music. This shows how much 21 years old pianist can be mature. He perfectly controlled the sound, tempos, and dynamics and built musical constructions of perfect stability. He was also brave presenting his own renditions. Many evidences one can find in the way he interprets Sonata in B minor by Franz Liszt. These early recordings prove the main value of Katsaris recordings was always the power of his vision and ability to make it universally human experience. This is worth four and a half stars for brave and noble performances opening phenomenal development of this artist.

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