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  Praga Digitals -
  PRD/DSD 250 247
  Weber: Piano Sonatas - Jean-François Heisser
  Carl Maria von Weber: Piano Sonatas, Invitation to the Dance Op. 65, Polka Brillante Op. 72

Jean-François Heisser (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 2
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Site review by Geohominid May 24, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:    
The real co-star on this recording is the Erard piano of 1874, a photograph of which is revealed when you remove the disc from its case. Although iron-framed and several piano generations later than the wooden-framed instruments of Weber's time in the early decades of the C19th, this Erard has the French lightness and clarity of tone which was much in demand in Europe as the Romantic movement proceeded. The bass is strong but well-articulated, supporting rapid passage-work without blurring, as Jean-François Heisser demonstrates in a stern military variation in the slow movement of Op. 49. The treble is simply beautiful, sweet and clear, putting many a modern concert grand to shame.

Heisser appears to have quite an affinity with Weber's music, frequently playing it in recitals and chamber concerts and thus helping to restore Weber's fall from contemporary fashion. His enjoyment shows in every moment of his playing, which is in synergy with the light action and rich set of tone colours possessed by the piano. I much enjoyed his sense of freedom and naturalness in projecting the myriad decorative passages in the music, and his vocal sense in conveying the Bellinian bel canto melodies which occur frequently in the sonatas. After all, Chopin himself used to teach the A flat sonata to his pupils, as it has an almost constant virtuosity and exploits the full range of the keyboard.

Thanks to Berlioz and his orchestration, the piano Rondo "Invitation to the Dance" has remained in popular taste, and it is a delight to hear it in its original form. Heisser begins its opening gambit very diffidently, all the better to spring out upon us with the sparkling waltz itself, whirling away elegantly with the confidence of a golden age.

The fine Praga recording is completely and appropriately at the service of the music, conveying a realistic recital ambience which allows all the glow, glitter and growl of this grand old piano to register transparently. There is a very helpful sleeve note from Pierre Barbier making some interesting points about Weber's career, and a beautiful and appropriate painting by arch-Romantic Caspar David Friedrich reproduced on the sleeve cover. Recommended.

Copyright © 2008 John Miller and

Review by JJ April 2, 2008 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Author of four sonatas for piano, works for four hands, and variations, Carl Maria von Weber was not prolific for the keyboard. But, as Adélaïde de Place rightly states, “These are still works that Liszt admired to the point of having his students practice them “with extreme care.” What’s more, the link between the beginning of Chopin’s Étude op. 10 n°12, called the “Revolutionary”, and the surprising introduction to the allegro of Weber’s first sonata, has often been made. As in Beethoven and Schubert – each in his own way -, Weber, a musician of the classical school, knew how to break out of the narrow framework of the 18th century’s small piano-forte. With an extreme sense of pianistic color, he wrote brilliant music enameled with technical difficulties and virtuoso effects onto which he made these quasi vocal inflections inspired by his genius as a man of the theater.” The program is made up of the Sonata N°2, in A flat major Op. 39, which was completed back in 1816, the Sonata N°3, in D minor Op. 49, which was also terminated in 1816, and the Invitation to the Dance Op. 65 in its original version. Jean-François Heisser, playing an Erard piano built in 1874, here offers us a remarkable interpretation of these undeniably charming scores. Skillfully controlled both in his phrasing and no less so in his virtuosity, his playing breathes a communicative vitality. He manages to bring out the original colors in these works, which the warm sound of the period piano happily reinforces. There is no denying that Jean-François Heisser does not have the poetry of Jean Martin, another great interpreter of these pages, but his performance is marvelously balanced. A fine, dynamic sound recording what’s more, this pure DSD multicanal and stereo SACD is an essential one.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 4  

Carl Maria von Weber - Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance), J. 260 Op. 65
Carl Maria von Weber - Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, J. 199 Op. 39
Carl Maria von Weber - Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, J. 206 Op. 49
Carl Maria von Weber - Polacca brillante (L'hilarité), J. 268 Op. 72