A treasure island of piano music — Spiegel Online
The Grand Piano label continues to uncover gems of the piano repertoire. — Fanfare

ROGER-DUCASSE, Jean (1873-1954)

PIANO WORKS


  • Joel Hastings, piano

Jean Roger-Ducasse was a close friend of Debussy and a composer of considerable reputation in his day, one critic declaring that “all the best qualities of the French musician are combined in him – an abundantly rich imagination, clear and deep thought… and unerring taste.” These qualities are found in piano works that range from exquisitely colourful wartime pieces such as Sonorités, the playfully virtuosic Rythmes, the alternately dreamy and dramatic Barcarolles, to a final, innovative Romance that seems constantly on the brink of wandering away from tonal harmony.

Tracklist

1
Barcarolle No. 1 (1906) (00:07:01)
2
Rythmes (1917) (00:04:56)
3
Prélude in A Minor (1913) (00:01:44)
4
Chant de l'aube (1921) (00:04:14)
5
Sonorités (1918) (00:05:42)
 
6 Préludes (1907) (00:10:00 )
6
No. 1. Très nonchalant (00:01:08)
7
No. 2. Très calme (00:01:35)
8
No. 3. D'un rythme très précis (00:01:09)
9
No. 4. Très libre (00:02:02)
10
No. 5. D'un rythme capricieux et tendre (00:02:54)
11
No. 6. Très souple (00:04:04)
12
Barcarolle No. 2 (1920) (00:09:15)
13
Impromptu (1921) (00:04:51)
14
Romance (1923) (00:06:05)
 
Petite Suite (arr. J. Charlot for piano 2 hands) (1897) (00:06:29 )
15
I. Souvenance * (00:02:26)
16
II. Berceuse * (00:01:58)
17
III. Claironnerie * (00:02:07)
 
4 Études (1915) (00:15:00 )
18
No. 1. Prélude (00:04:39)
19
No. 2. Fugue (00:03:35)
20
No. 3. Lent (00:02:16)
21
No. 4. Lentement (00:04:47)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:18:28

The Artist

Canadian-born Joel Hastings was the winner of the 8th International Web Concert Hall Competition and the International Bach Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. After his performance at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, one reporter designated Hastings the “audience favorite” while another declared, “the kinetic fingers of this Canadian reminded me strongly of his late countryman, Glenn Gould.” He was mentioned in Newsweek magazine for having “pulled the audience to their feet after a wild performance of Franz Liszt’s Totentanz.” Critics described his playing as passionate, mesmerising, hypnotic, and transcendental.

A Steinway Artist, Hastings performed solo recitals across Canada, the United States, and Europe, while his orchestral engagements included the Toronto Philharmonic, the Detroit, Ann Arbor, Oakville, Okanagan, Windsor, Kamloops, Niagara, Racine, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie Symphonies, the Kitchener-Waterloo and Michigan Chamber Orchestras, the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the Ann Arbor Concert Band, and the Florida State University Orchestra.

His discography includes live recordings of Franz Liszt’s song and operatic transcriptions and Frederic Chopin’s 24 Etudes. His recordings were selected for Canadian critics’ awards, praised in publications such as American Record Guide and MusicWeb International, and featured on CBC national radio as well as numerous stations throughout the United States. In 2014, the Naxos American Classics label released his recording of solo piano music by American composer Carter Pann [8.559751].

He served as a faculty member of the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Arcidosso, Tuscany, Italy, and Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Bavaria, Germany. He had also been a guest professor at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China and had performed and taught in Naleczów, Poland, as part of the Poland International Piano Festival. He was a co-organizer of the Midsummer Piano Retreat in Prague, Czech Republic, and was an assistant professor of piano at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Tragically, Joel Hastings died suddenly and unexpectedly in May 2016, at the early age of 46 years.

The Composer

A pupil of Gabriel Fauré at the Paris Conservatoire, Jean Roger-Ducasse succeeded Dukas as professor of composition at the same institution. As a composer he developed a personal style, firmly rooted in tradition.

Stage Works

The lyric comedy Cantegril was staged at the Paris Opéra-Comique in 1931, five years after the mounting there of his lyric mimodrama Orphée.

Orchestral Music

Roger-Ducasse showed his mastery of orchestration in his Suite française of 1907. Other orchestral compositions include the Marche française of 1914, a Petite Suite and a set of Variations plaisantes (‘Pleasant Variations’) on a serious theme for harp and orchestra. His music for chorus and orchestra includes the triptych Ulysse et les Sirènes (‘Odysseus and the Sirens’) and his earlier work based on Faust Au jardin de Marguerite (‘In the Garden of Marguerite’).

Chamber Music

Chamber music of interest by Roger-Ducasse includes a String Quartet and a Piano Quartet.

Reviews

Fanfare

“The late Joel Hastings recorded a fine sampling of Jean Roger-Ducasse’s piano works.” – Fanfare

Classica

“The Canadian pianist, Joel Hastings... penetrates deeply into the mysteries of this music, which is supple, complex but never unfathomable.” – Classica

“Hastings has a deft touch and brings a world of piano colors to these selections. There is not an easy piece here. He handles the considerable difficulties with great skill.” – American Record Guide

“Among the most striking pieces here is Rythmes, its shimmering, shifting textures most persuasively coloured by Hastings. The Prelude in A minor is yet another example—and a vivid one too—of French composers’ obsession with all things Spanish, while the second of the Quatre Études is a twinklingly good-natured fugue. Altogether a fascinating snapshot of a composer who was a key figure on the French scene.” – Gramophone