The Operatic Pianist: Volume II


Catalogue No: DDA 25153
EAN/UPC: 809730515323
Composers: , , , , , ,
Release Date: September 2017
Discs: 1
Total Playing Time: 67:45

In the mid to late 19th century, piano transcriptions allowed access to the classics for the majority of people who could not attend opera or orchestral performances. In the area of ‘grand opera’ specialists included of course Franz Liszt – and also composers such as Sigismund Thalberg. Andrew Wright is a rarity in the current day being an expert interpreter and also arranger of operatic themes, and as well as an astonishing virtuosity enabling the drama of the scene to be preserved, he also keeps alive the tradition by which opera tunes became popular.

Following the critical praise given to the original ‘Operatic Pianist’ album, this set includes transcriptions and fantasies by Wright, Thalberg, Liszt, Kullak, Leschetizky and Jaëll and amazingly a fine work by Saint-Saëns receiving its world premiere recording.

Intense, dramatic and full of action this will appeal to both opera lovers and piano afficionados.

Track Listing

    Alfred Jaëll (1832-1882):

  1. Reminiscences of Norma (after Vincenzo Bellini) *
  2. Andrew Wright (b.1967):

  3. Col sorriso d’innocenza (from Bellini’s Il Pirata)*
  4. Theodore Leschitizky (1830-1915):

  5. Andante Finale de Lucia di Lammermoor (after Gaetano Donizetti)
  6. Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871):

  7. Fantasie sur Mosè in Egitto (after Giachino Rossini)
  8. Franz Liszt (1811-1886):

  9. Lohengrin’s Admonition (“Athmest du nicht”) (after Richard Wagner)
  10. Andrew Wright (b.1967):

  11. Paraphrase on Verdi’s Miserere (from Il Trovatore)*
  12. Theodor Kullak (1818-1882):

  13. Cavatine de Robert le Diable (after Giacomo Meyerbeer)*
  14. Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921):

  15. Concert Paraphrase on la Mort de Thaïs (after Jules Massenet)*
  16. Franz Liszt (1811-1886):

  17. Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi (after Richard Wagner)


MusicWeb International

Overall, this is a marvellous disc. The cover notes are interesting and informative and the recording quality is superb – well up to the usual standards of the Divine Art label. Andrew Wright is clearly an extremely talented and versatile performer with a lovely tone and bagsful of virtuosity… fantastically well done and a thoroughly wonderful performance.

” —Jonathan Welsh

Wright is a pianist-scholar, and an aficionado of this sort of repertory. His best skill is his legato playing, and that’s an essential skill to have if you are going to play and record a program of operatic transcriptions. , I am expecting The Operatic Pianist III in early 2021, and I am sure I will enjoy that one too.

” —Raymond Tuttle
Audiophile Sound

Not only opera lovers, but also those of great piano literature can only be impressed by these readings. such a repertoire can be approached only by those who are able to be a great virtuoso, a refined psychologist of notes and musical nuances and a skilful storyteller… all qualities that Andrew Wright proves to possess adequately. The recording enhances the piano sound with fine tonal balance even in the most convulsive passages and capable of expressing in detail the finest tonal nuances.

” —Andrea Bedetti
American Record Guide

Mr Wright has the prodigious technique these arrangements require. Wright’s two Lisztian arrangements are excellent—the most desirable nine minutes here. Excellent sound.

” —Stephen Wright

Lyricism is supplied in abundance by Wright. His warm tone and his ability to spin a legato phrase on what is essentially a percussion instrument are very impressive. There is something truly vocal about his playing. I can recommend this disc… very natural recorded sound and superb notes round out the production.

” —Henry Fogel
The Whole Note

Wright clearly has a wonderful working grasp of this repertoire and knows how to bring forward the vocal line as well as how to portray the orchestral colour that any given emotional moment requires. His playing is consistently fabulous.

” —Alex Baran
Audiophile Audition

The art of the keyboard transcription of opera has a passionate acolyte in Andrew Wright’s assembly of virtuoso treatments. Wright applies his formidable prowess. Stunning piano sound makes the entire [program] engaging and educational, at once.

” —Gary Lemco
The Chronicle

The playing is superb; even a non-pianist can tell that in places Wright is playing at world-class levels. If it has a drawback (and it’s hard to really be critical on something this good), it’s that the styles range considerably, from the gentle and calming to the highly ornate, fiendishly complex. On the other hand, and this is a big plus, if you’re not too keen on opera, you get all the best bits.

” —Jeremy Condliffe

In terms of musical and pianistic invention, of greater interest (than the Jaëll and Leschitzky) are Thalberg’s Moses Fantasy, one of the pieces he played during the famous Paris ‘duel’ with Liszt at the Princess Belgiojoso’s, and Saint-Saëns’s treatment of Massenet’s Thaïs, titled La mort de Thaïs.Wright admirably avoids over-playing and his pedalling is always judicious.

” —Patrick Rucker
MusicWeb International

Horrendously difficult technical passages, spectacular and jolly difficult. [In Thalberg’s Fantasie alone] there are horrendously complex pianistic configurations including fiendish octave passages, ‘sweeping arpeggios’ and extremely fast chromatic melodic patterns… it is utterly amazing. Interestingly, more than half of these ‘paraphrases’ are receiving their “first commercial recording”. Wright’s playing is superb. The sound quality of the recording is ideally balanced: every detail from the most intimate arabesque to the hammered octaves is clear and undistorted.

” —John France
Rafael Music Notes

Divine Art is a record company that focuses its efforts instead on creating very special things… Andrew Wright dazzles with his command and conquest of the pianistic mine fields of [these works]. The demands this repertory places on technical wizardry, including interlocking and alternating and cross-voicing from hand to hand, extended passages using massive octaves, unending arpeggios, and its call for the stamina of a sportsman are beyond the reach of any but the most valiant of pianists. Mr. Wright is one such keyboard artist.

” —Rafael de Acha