Paray piano CC006

Paul Paray (1886-1979)
Piano Works – Volume 2
Reflets Romantiques (1912)
Impressions (1912)
Prélude, Allegro, Scherzo (1913)
Prélude in E flat minor (1930)
Piano piece for four hands (1916)*
Fantasie for two pianos (1906/09)*
Katia Krivokochenko (piano)
Elaine Reyes (piano)*
World Premiere Recording (Fantasie)
rec. 2020-2021, Studio Recital B (Tihange)

This is the second volume in Ciar Classics’ survey of the piano music of Paul Paray. The first volume I reviewed last year, and commented that it was “a delightful selection of tonally pleasing music”. The pianist that time was Eliane Reyes. For this latest release the Franco-Russian pianist Katia Krivokochenko performs the solo piano works, with Reyes joining her for the four hands and two piano music.

Although penned as early as 1912, Reflets Romantiques are a group of nine pieces that were published by Jobert as late as May 1922. It begins with a piece entitled Avec esprit et charme, whose mood is skittish, fun-loving and coquettish. Ardemment, which follows, inhabits a much more serious vein. The fifth piece Scherzetto actually dates back to 1903, but is included in the group. I’d describe it as fickle and vacillating. At over eight minutes long Impromptu, no. 6, is the longest piece in the set. Krivokochenko paints Sur la Mer (No. 8) in some gleaming and vibrant colours. Vertige closes the group in a whirlwind of sparkling dexterity.

Also composed in 1912 are three short piano pieces titled Impressions. Nostalgie has a whiff of nostalgia and wistful longing. Éclaircie is the least interesting of the trio; I found it quite dull and unimaginative. Primesaut sweeps the listener up in a swirling waltz.

The triptych Prélude, Allegro, Scherzo was drafted between October and December 1913. After a simple Prelude, the Allegro has toccata-like outer sections framing a centrally more subdued section. The Scherzo is whimsical with a mercurial lightness of touch, and aptly described in the booklet as cast in the “guise of Pulcinella”. The Prélude in E flat minor dates from as late as 1930 and has a solemn and sombre mein.

Katia Krivokochenko is joined by Elaine Reyes for the final two pieces. The Piano piece for four hands dates from 1916 and is a brief entertaining morsel in the shape of a waltz. The Fantasie (1906/09) is considerably more substantial at over thirteen minutes. Written during Paray’s time at the Paris Conservatory, it began life as a work for piano and orchestra. It is here arranged for two pianos. After a solemn introduction, it traverses a variety of episodes, which offer variety and contrast.

Both Krivokochenko and Reyes are ardent advocates of this repertoire, and perform it with commitment and persuasion. The intimate acoustic of the Studio Recital B (Tihange-Belgium) provides a warmly welcoming ambience to showcase this attractive music. The booklet notes are provided by Damien Top who is, not only the producer, but President of the Paul Paray Association, founded in 2008 to promote the composer’s works. It’s worth pointing out that the tracklisting is incorrect on the rear of the gatefold. There is no track 10, so you have to make your own recalculations from 10 onwards.

Stephen Greenbank

Previous review: Ralph Moore (November 2022)

Availability: Ledisquaire