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Romantic Music for Flute and Piano

C├ęsar Franck, Philippe Gaubert, Franz Liszt, Charles Marie Widor

Robert Morrison, Steingraeber Piano (1873)

Powell Flute, No.151 (1930)



“Sound is the first thing to grab the listener’s attention on this CD. The instrumental tone qualities, both from the flute and the piano, differ from what we have become accustomed to hearing. The piano is perhaps a little darker than usual, but deeply resonant and sonorous. The flute tone is rich and powerful, but also well shaped and malleable, and the two instruments blend particularly well. There is playing of great beauty [in Consolations] here from both performers… this playing inspired me and made me see the music in a new way. The third movement [of Franck’s A Major Sonata] is performed with a wonderful range of expression, building intensity and strength toward the exquisitely played reprise of the melody at the end. The magnificent Finale is played with a passionate, stirring interpretation, bringing this wonderful CD to a close.”
Carla Rees, Flutist Quarterly [September 2009]
"[the] balance between the 1930 Powell and the 1873 Steingraeber yields an arrestingly natural sound. Marianiello does not surrender any nimbleness to [Pahud]... there are definite sparks from these MSR musicians... A fine collection from beginning to end, for the musical marriage between Marianiello and Morrison is as blissful as their instruments'."
Tannenbaum, American Record Guide [May/June 2009]
"What makes this CD especially interesting is not just the charm of the four pieces recorded but the fact that the instruments used are of particular relevance... You will notice that the music was recorded in Bayreuth which Franz Liszt visited on many occasions to see the Wagners. Eduard Steingraeber had a piano manufacturing business there and one of his pianos, number 4328 to be precise, was a favourite of the composers and he often played it. It is known that one of these occasions was on 27 June 1886. This is the mellifluous instrument played here by Robert Morrison who is perhaps better known as assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. This piano possesses an idyllic piano dynamic and very little volume above mf. In addition the flute used by Linda Marianiello was made by Verne Q. Powell around 1930. Its tone is gentle and the two together make a lovely and wistful balance. As the anonymous booklet notes tell us “the music features both instruments in equal partnership and neither should dominate”. The overall sound of this recital is one of intimacy and to quote again “The music for this recording was selected with the ambience of a nineteenth-century salon or small concert hall in mind”...  Marianiello and Morrison  are a real partnership. Both players show themselves to be masters of fine phrasing and dynamics, building an overall architectural picture and defying the inherent limitations of their respective instruments... well worth hearing and admiring."
Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International [February 2009]
"Linda Marianiello really shines in Consolations: Romantic Music for Flute & Piano. In this program of (mostly) French masterworks, she is ably partnered by a fellow artist with Chicago roots, pianist Robert Morrison. They form an ideal collaboration, which is important for works that are all true duos, not just accompanied flute sonatas... A formidable program.
It begins with Gaubert's Sonata, in which both instruments get the chance to savor the bold lyricism. Widor's Suite alternates two brooding movements with two in which the swift outpouring of notes is both exhilarating and (for the flutist) breath-taking. The  virtuosity called for from both performers [in the three transcriptions taken from Liszt's Four Consolations] strikes the listener with awe... Finally, Cesar Franck's Sonata in A concludes the program, and it was worth the wait. This version of one of the true masterworks of instrumental music is less often played than the original version for violin and piano, and you can understand why. For the flutist, it is a minefield of career-breaking opportunities. Not the least of these is the really fast flurry of quarter-notes in the finale, marked Allegretto poco mosso, in which the flutist must accommodate sudden octave leaps on the same breath stream. Marianiello takes it all in stride without seeming the least  breathy... That is far from the only beauty in this work. The noble melody of the opening movement sounds just as idiomatically distinctive when transcribed for flute as it does for violin. The suddenly soaring flute melody in the Allegro is worth hearing again and again. And both partners really enjoy the lively interchange in the third movement, marked Recitative-Fantasia and partaking of the nature of both in its natural improvisatory quality."
Atlanta Audio Society [January 2009]
The Sonata in A major by Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) is a lyrical work on the late Romantic period and is arguably the finest of all Gaubert's works for flute and piano. The beauty of the melodic writing in all three movements surpasses that of her other flute compositions, with the possible exception of certain chamber music works.

Charles Marie Widor (1844-1937), whose principal body of music is for the organ, also wrote a Suite for Flute and Piano that has received considerable attention among flutists of late. The compositional style of this four-movement suite is unique to the nineteenth-century flute repertoire and, as is characteristic of Widor's oeuvre in general, a virtuoso display for both instruments. High Romantic style best describes this piece: movements one and three are dramatic, brooding with virtuoso solo cadenzas for the flute, while two and four fly like the wind, leaving performers and listeners breathless and exhilarated.
Consolations, a set of six pieces for solo piano, were written by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) in 1850. Linda Marianiello transcribed and a premiered three Consolations (Nos. II-IV) in Bayreuth with the "Liszt" grand piano. They are works of great meditative beauty, very different from the pianistic fireworks one has come to associate with Liszt.

The Sonata in A major is considered one of Cesar Franck's (1822-1890) finest compositions. The musical content of this sonata makes the physical demands of playing it on the flute well worth the effort. Although it is performed and recorded more frequently as a violin sonata, contemporary flutists such as Paula Robison and Donald Peck have published their own transcriptions of the sonata, clearly establishing its importance within the flute repertoire. Franck himself published a flute version of the sonata, as well as two others for violin and cello.

In the nineteenth century, King Ludwig II built an opera house for the great composer Richard Wagner on a hill above Bayreuth, a beautiful town in Northern Bavaria. Franz Liszt was a close friend of the Wagner family, a great admirer of Wagner's music, and a frequent guest in Bayreuth. Both Wagner and Liszt collaborated with Eduard Steingraeber, the highly regarded piano builder who constructed the deep bells for Wagner's opera, Parsifal. In 1873, Steingraeber also built one of the earliest grand pianos, an instrument that was very advanced for its time. This "Liszt" grand piano was the inspiration for this recording of Romantic works for flute and piano. American flutist Linda Marianiello was invited to give a number of recitals at Steingraeber Haus in Bayreuth. Since Liszt's time, the piano has resided in the small concert hall of this lovely Rococo palace. Steingraeber Haus is still home to the present generation of Steingraeber & Sons piano manufacturers which, in the tradition of Eduard Steingraeber, continues to innovate through collaborations with artists.

The music for this recording was selected with the ambience of a nineteenth-century salon or small concert hall in mind. Nineteenth-century flute and piano repertoire sounds surprisingly different when played on a 1930 Powell flute with a period grand piano. As modern listeners, we sometimes forget that Romantic composers had rather different instruments at their disposal. For example, the 1873 Steingraeber grand piano has a wider color palette, many more dynamic levels between pianissimo and mezzo forte, an entirely different articulation that blends more expressively with the flute, and less volume than today's concert grands. The quieter timbre virtually eliminates balance problems in textures that are characterized by active, soloistic piano writing which can easily cover the flute, especially in the lower register. By nature, this music features both instruments in equal partnership and neither should dominate.

Cesar Franck, Franz Liszt, and Charles Marie Widor are familiar names to aficionados of Romantic music. Lesser known, but equally worthy of a place on any flute album, is the lovely, impressionistic Sonata in A major by flutist-composer Philippe Gaubert, who was not only a flutist and esteemed teacher, but music director of the Paris Opera as well.

"Linda Marianiello is a flutist with a vision, who showed a commitment to excellence in performance as well as innovative repertory" wrote The Washington Post. "An internationally-proclaimed artist, from whom one expects an inspired performance...The public reacted to this thrilling, compelling rendition with stormy applause" wrote the Bayreuth press. Her credits include concerto appearances with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Orchester Concerto Armonico in Oberammergau, New American Chamber Orchestra in Spain, Fairfield Chamber Orchestra, Wyoming Symphony, Mercury Ensemble and Musica Sacra Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Marianiello has performed at world-renowned European festivals and venues in Bayreuth, Salzburg, Potsdam-Sanssouci, Oberammergau, Deya-Mallorca, Elba and Graz. In addition to appearances in numerous well-known concert series throughout North America, she receives frequent invitations to play at National Flute Association conventions, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis. Marianiello is also sought after for master classes around the world, and has taught at the City University of New York-Brooklyn College and Colorado State University. She has been a guest artist at numerous universities including Yale, Cornell, Northwestern, Rhodes College, Miami University of Ohio, SUNY-Fredonia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, China. Marianiello is a founding member of The Chicago Fine Arts Chamber Players with Stephen Balderston, former associate principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Cello at De Paul University, and pianist Aaron Krister Johnson, a multi-keyboardist, composer and artistic director of Midwest Microfest. The FACP performs regularly in and around Chicago, collaborating with many well-known guest artists. She has performed on ORB-Berlin, Spanish National Television, Austrian National Television, Bavarian Television and on numerous PBS television stations in the United States. She has also been a guest on many National Public Radio and Classical FM programs. An active recording artist, Marianiello has several acclaimed recordings to her credit. Dialogues: American Music for Flute and Organ released in 2003 [MSR Classics MS1069] received high critical acclaim. The CD, a collaboration between Marianiello, organist Keith Reas and the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was featured on NPR’s "Pipe Dreams" and numerous other noteworthy radio programs. It also received praise in The American Organist, the journal of the American Guild of Organists and many other publications. In 2001, she released a collection of works for traversi baroque flute and basso continuo. Marianiello, a specialist in the performance of eighteenth-century music on both modern and baroque flutes, performs works by J.S. Bach, Antoine Mahaut, and Michel Pignolet de Monteclair. In addition, she is featured on numerous solo recordings for the Bavarian Radio Studios in Munich, which include nineteenth and twentieth- century works for flute with piano and strings. Marianiello is a Recording Studio Artist for Verne Q. Powell Flutes, which sponsors her on tour and in recording projects.

Pianist Robert Morrison is an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and assistant to James Levine at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany. He has worked frequently with the San Francisco, Chicago Lyric and Australian Opera Companies. Morrison has been coach and accompanist to many of the world's leading opera singers, performing with such artists as Marilyn Horne and Placido Domingo. He has played for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has appeared in chamber music concerts at the Ravinia and Spoleto Festival and at Carnegie Hall. Morrison graduated Cum laude from De Paul University in Chicago, where he was a pupil of Chicago Symphony pianist Mary Sauer. Among his other teachers were Aube Tzerko and Lili Kraus.

The "Liszt" Grand Piano
Franz Liszt's favorite piano in Bayreuth was serial number 4328, built by Eduard Steingraeber in 1873. The instrument, extremely modern for its time, was equipped with a cast-iron frame and correspondingly sturdy strings, as well as a repeating mechanism. Especially worthy of note are the casing and sounding board. The casing was made to fit in with the decor of the Rokokosaal, the concert hall in Steingraeber Haus. Its great richness of overtones derives from the rigid construction of the sounding board.

The relationship between Franz Liszt and Eduard Steingraeber dates back to the 1840s. According to Mr. Steingraeber's own reports, he had assisted Liszt at many of his concerts by replacing broken strings in the course of performances. There is still a photograph with a dedication from Franz Liszt, dated September 25, 1867, in the present-day archives of Steingraeber & Sons.

It is a fact that Franz Liszt played the grand piano used in this recording on June 27, 1886. Steingraeber's records show that he also played it on many occasions prior to that in the presence of Cosima and Richard Wagner, as well as Eugene D'Albert. Liszt continued to play the instrument until the time of his death.
Udo Schmidt-Steingraeber, the current owner of Steingraeber & Sons, has followed in the footsteps of Eduard Steingraeber with innovations that, to some extent, have their basis in these early instruments. Today's Steingraeber grand pianos and uprights have won numerous prizes in Paris and are among the finest instruments available today. They are played in major European and Asian concert halls, at important international music festivals and music conservatories worldwide. Steingraeber pianos are also becoming better known in the United States.
Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941)

Charles Marie WIDOR (1844-1937)

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
THREE CONSOLATIONS (II-IV) Transcribed: L. Marianiello

César FRANCK (1822-1890)

MSR Classics
American Music for Flute and Organ


Lyric Music for Flute and Organ