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Cyprien Katsaris on DVD & CD

Cyprien Katsaris Live in Shanghai 2007 & at Schubertiade Festival 1993

Aguilar, Aguilar, Mangore, Villa-Lobos, Cervantes, Ginastera, Piazzola, Rodriguez, Ponce, Gómez
Encores: Schumann & Chopin

Piano21 P21 035-N
Available in UK from musicandmediaconsulting.com

This newly released DVD of music from Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico, given live by the great French-Cypriot pianist Cyprien Katsaris - b. 1953, UNESCO Artist for Peace - is as enjoyable and life-enhancing a disc as you'll likely encounter this year.

Little known in UK, he plays a vast repertoire by memory and is a captivating performer who makes his audience at the Shanghai Conservatory relish every phrase of this mostly unfamiliar music. A lot of it sounds at first simplistic and often repetitive, but Katsaris varies it cunningly and keeps you attentive to music much of which you might easily have passed by.

A fluent multi-linguist, Cyprien Katsaris introduces his selection in twelve languages; you have a choice of two or three of them (some were dubbed by him after the concert)...

His Piazzola has a simplicity and focus which is completely disarming; we have played some of these pieces over several times and it is staying on our DVD player to introduce visitors to the special way of this very special musician.

There are marvellous views of this charismatic artist's own enjoyment of the event, played entirely by memory with the music stand off the Steinway.

Only now and again does he give full rein to his consummate virtuosity, as in his own dazzling arrangement of Gómez's Variaciones sobre el Tema del Jarabe Mexicano,and there is a wonderful moment after his Schumman Arabesque encore; Cyprien takes a bow twice then retreats and the audience begins to disperse [R].

Only after the applause had died down, does he return unexpectedly to give a wickedly idiosyncratic take on a Chopin waltz, to a tumultuous ovation from the not-large mainly student audience.

Cyprien Katsaris Archives Vol. 8

Schubert Bb Sonata, etc.

Piano 21 P21 042-A

The Schubert CD, also of a live concert as you can feel, has two of the Klavierstucke, a selection of dance pieces and a group of Liszt transcriptions of Schubert lieder.

For his second half, as riveting an account of the late Schubert Bb sonata as any in my collection. For the expansive first movement Katsaris takes a leisurely 19 mins, as against Richter's 25 mins on disc and YouTube, which really does strain one's patience...

Cyprien's encores are an overblown, grandiose and quickly forgettable improvisation on tunes by Tchaikovsky and Wagner - the sort of thing Cherkassky used to do in recital - and for a calming finish, a spell-binding Marcello adagio arrangement.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Cyprien Katsaris, now aged 60, is to make his début UK recital in a charity event at Galeri Caernarfon Arts Centre inNorth Wales, 23rd September.

For perceptive recent reviews, see Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times, Peter Rabinowitz in Fanfare
and Donald Isler in Classical Music Guide

And try to find on You Tube many of Katsaris' Chopin Masterclasses in Shanghai a 13 part program broadcast on Japanese Television’s “NHK Educational” series. We enjoyed particularly sessions on the Fantaisie Impromptu and Chopin's favourite A minor Valse, Cyprien teaching a gifted and receptive young Chinese girl "Sachi" with great sensitivity.