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Liner Notes

The principal work of any musician is developing an extensive set of memories. These memories are sounds, sights, and kinesthetic bonds: taken together, they create an artist’s technique and musicality. This is particularly true for pianists, who traditionally perform every work without music. It was easy for me to choose Recollections as the title of this CD, because the works in this recording are embedded in memories that span nearly my entire career as a pianist.

Sergei Rachmaninoff   The Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Corelli is the newest work for me in this collection. I first heard the work in Colorado as an undergraduate, and immediately put it on my “to-do” list—where it stayed for about 35 years! I finally learned it four years ago, and have performed it numerous times. I love the piece because it showcases so many of the things that make Rachmaninoff an icon: a full range of virtuosity, melodic charm, and rich harmonies.

The theme is not actually by Corelli, but a much older, traditional tune titled “La Folia.” It was used as a subject for many sets of variations in the Baroque era, one of which was by Corelli.

Frédéric Chopin   I first performed the Chopin “Funeral March” Sonata in graduate school, and it was one of the works that I performed during my audition for a faculty position at Bucknell University in 1978. I have returned to the piece numerous times over the intervening years, each time feeling that I have found new ideas and inspiration.

The most striking movement of the work is not the famous third movement, the “Funeral March,” but the Finale, with its bizarre scale passages. Chopin writes for two hands in unison throughout the entire short movement. Critics have pondered the meaning of this musical idea for many years because it is so unlike any other music of the time. The most striking description remains that of the famous pianist Anton Rubinstein, who called it “night winds sweeping over church-yard graves.”

Ludwig van Beethoven   August Cranz, Beethoven’s publisher, supplied the title “Pastoral” when he released Beethoven’s Sonata, Op. 28. The title implies that the work will be gentle and lyrical, with themes that remind listeners of the countryside. This is certainly true of the first and fourth movements of Op. 28, but not of the two inner movements.

The Pastoral Sonata has been a favorite of mine for many years. Many Beethoven sonatas have a movement that is weaker than the others, but I believe the Sonata, Op. 28, is extraordinary from start to finish. All four movements are gems.

Recorded and edited by Dale Hourlland and Paul Botelho. Recorded at Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA. Piano technician: William Koble. Art, photography, and design by Aaron Lyon, monkeymatic.com

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