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Schubert Impromptus and Ländler

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0127
Release Date: 05/01/2013
Number of Discs: 1
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Franz Schubert
Impromptus D 899 and D 935
17 Ländler D 366

Cordelia Williams, Piano

Piano Winner, BBC Young Musician Competition 2006 at the age of 17

Mesmerising.”   Music & Vision Magazine
A natural Schubertian.”. Portsmouth Evening News

Siva Oke’s verdict on hearing Cordelia play Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto at the finals of the Dudley International Competition, West Midlands,  two years ago was “Absolutely stunning!”   As far as she was concerned Beethoven might have composed his G Major Piano Concerto with Cordelia in mind. Siva Oke said: “Right from the first notes of the simple introduction ushered in by the piano and all through the hymn-like second movement  we all knew that this young pianist had come as close to Beethoven’s mind and spirit as it was possible to be.”

SOMM’s Dudley Competition prize to Cordelia was the award of a debut recording in this New Horizons series which nurtures and promotes young artists, giving them a chance to develop their careers worldwide. Siva Oke said: “We are convinced that Cordelia’s debut recording of the Schubert Impromptus and 17 Ländler will serve to win her a place among the élite of the young rising stars of today.”

In his notes for the CD booklet Robert Matthew-Walker reminds us that Biedermeier Vienna after the defeat of Napoléon Bonaparte at Waterloo  in 1815 underwent a period of social and economic stability. “During the 1820s the new ‘middle-class’ citizens could now afford the new pianofortes and were thirsty for musical evenings. Musical evenings at home – ‘Schubertiades’ as they were called – became outlets for Schubert’s songs and piano pieces and through his friends’ enthusiasm he found a ready and appreciative audience”.

Schubert’s Piano Sonatas marked the end of the first great era of the genre, whilst his shorter piano pieces unfailingly appealed to the growing new audience for music, not least because it was suggested by some that the two sets of Impromptus (composed late in 1827) are sonates manquées. Schubert however, mentioned them as “Four Impromptus which can appear singly or all four together”. The second set, D935, was initially numbered by Schubert as 5 – 8, implying this as a continuation of the first set of Impromptus D899.

The Impromptus are far too well known to merit a detailed musical analysis here but they will always stand head and shoulders above all so-called ‘miniatures’ of the time. They draw the listener into a very special, intimate world and  pave the way for the later Romanticism of Chopin and Liszt, distinguished as they are  by their intensity, spirituality and the composer’s depth of understanding of the piano’s sonorities.

The 17 Ländler  D 366, also on this disc, serve as a delightful juxtaposition to the sombre and intense Impromptus. Schubert composed these light-hearted, folk-type dances in the summer of 1824 whilst in Hungary as guest of Count Johann Carl Esterházy. Schumann once observed that Schubert’s music “carries within it the germ of everlasting youth” and nothing could describe them more accurately.

Cordelia Williams
Cordelia Williams has an established career which has taken her in recital and concerto performances from Great Britain and Europe to America, China, Thailand, Kenya and the Gulf States. The Piano Winner of BBC Young Musician 2006 has propelled her into an international career as ‘one of the outstanding pianists of her generation’ and in 2011 she was awarded First Prize at the Concours International de Piano in Aix-en-Provence as well as being Second Prizewinner at the Dudley International Piano Competition.

She has performed in all the major concert halls including London’s Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Hall and Purcell Room as well as further afield at the Beijing Concert Hall and a growing number of engagements in the South of France. She has enjoyed appearances as concerto soloist with several orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Northern Sinfonia and London Mozart Players under the baton of, among others, Yan Pascal Torterlier, Thomas Zehetmair and John Wilson.

Cordelia is also a passionate chamber musician, having performed with the Endellion, Fitzwilliam and Maggini Quartets and all other combinations of musicians. She is also the founder of Cafe Muse, an innovative series of events, bringing classical music out of the concert hall and into the relaxed setting of bars and brasseries.
Cordelia’s studies began at home when very young, leading to Chethams School of Music where she studied under Bernard Roberts and Murray McLachlan. These were followed by a degree in Theology at Clare College, Cambridge, with Cordelia specialising in Hinduism and Buddhism. She has also completed a Masters in Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, whilst studying with Joan Havill.

On This Recording

  1. 4 Impromptus: No. 1 in C Minor
  2. 4 Impromptus: No. 2 in E-Flat Major
  3. 4 Impromptus: No. 3 in G-Flat Major
  4. 4 Impromptus: No. 4 in A-Flat Major
  5. 4 Impromptus: No. 1 in F Minor
  6. 4 Impromptus: No. 2 in A-Flat Major
  7. 4 Impromptus: No. 3 in B-Flat Major
  8. 4 Impromptus: No. 4 in F Minor
  9. 17 Landler: No. 1 in A Major – No. 2 in A Major – No. 3 in A Minor – No. 4 in A Minor – No. 5 in A Minor – No. 6 in C Major
  10. 17 Landler: No. 7 in G Major – No. 8 in D Major – No. 9 in B Major – No. 10 in B Minor – No. 11 in B Major – No. 12 in E-Flat Minor – No. 13 in B-Flat Minor
  11. 17 Landler: No. 14 in D-Flat Major – No. 15 in D-Flat Major – No. 16 in A-Flat Major – No. 17 in E-Flat Major