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TANSMAN, Alexandre (1897-1986)


  • Giorgio Koukl, piano

The career of Polish composer Alexandre Tansman flourished in Paris after the First World War, though it’s only in recent years that it has begun to be explored in depth on disc. A refined but spiritually engaged neo-Classicism remained a constant feature of his music-making in Europe and in his temporary American exile, whether in the beautifully evocative travelogue Visit to Israel or in the clarity of the Interludes and Caprices.


11 Interludes (1955) (00:14:00 )
No. 1. Moderato * (00:01:47)
No. 2. Allegro giusto * (00:01:05)
No. 3. Lento * (00:01:23)
No. 4. Andante * (00:01:11)
No. 5. Allegro con brio * (00:01:17)
No. 6. Moderato * (00:01:11)
No. 7. Allegro con moto * (00:01:19)
No. 8. Lento * (00:01:50)
No. 9. Andante sostenuto * (00:00:48)
No. 10. Moderato * (00:00:46)
No. 11. Allegro moderato ma deciso * (00:01:13)
Hommage à Arthur Rubinstein (1973) (00:04:00 )
Tempo di Mazurca * (00:02:01)
Toccata * (00:02:24)
2 Pièces hébraïques (1955) (00:09:00 )
No. 1. Invention * (00:06:42)
No. 2. Berceuse juive * (00:02:29)
4 Piano Moods (1944) (00:05:00 )
No. 1. Andante cantabile * (00:00:58)
No. 2. Vivace * (00:01:02)
No. 3. Lento * (00:01:22)
No. 4. Allegro meccanico * (00:01:12)
Prélude et Toccata (1943) (00:05:00 )
Prélude: Andante sostenuto * (00:01:46)
Toccata: Allegro molto * (00:03:22)
6 Caprices (1941) (00:08:00 )
No. 1. Allegro ben ritmato * (00:01:40)
No. 2. Moderato * (00:01:48)
No. 3. Lento * (00:02:33)
No. 4. Molto vivace * (00:00:34)
No. 5. Andante cantabile * (00:01:50)
Visit to Israel (1958) (00:13:00 )
I. Notturno: The Mysterious City of Sefad * (00:01:09)
II. The Kibbutz * (00:01:01)
III. The Ruins of Capernaum * (00:01:06)
IV. The Sources of the River Jordan * (00:00:52)
V. The Holy City (The Seven-armed Candelabra) * (00:01:52)
VI. The Desert of Negev * (00:01:40)
VII. The Mosque of Saint Jean d'Acre * (00:00:59)
VIII. The Lake of Tiberias * (00:01:16)
IX. Yemenite Cradle Song * (00:02:00)
X. Popular Dance (Hora) * (00:01:17)
Étude (Studio per pianoforte) (1967) * (00:06:47)
World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:05:32

The Artist

Giorgio Koukl is a pianist/harpsichordist and composer. He was born in Prague in 1953, and studied there at the State Music School and Conservatory. He continued his studies at both the Conservatories of Zürich and Milan, where he took part in the masterclasses of Nikita Magaloff, Jacques Février, and Stanislaus Neuhaus, and with Rudolf Firkušný, friend and advocate of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů.

The Composer

Alexandre Tansman

Few composers in the twentieth century have such an exceptionally far-ranging career as Alexandre Tansman. Born in Poland in 1897 at Łódź, also the birthplace of his friend, the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, Tansman studied at the conservatory there and in Warsaw. He had as a fellow student the famous conductor and composer Paul Kletzki, who, as a violinist, took part in the first performance of Tansman’s now lost Piano Trio No. 1 and later conducted also in Paris his Fifth Symphony [Marco Polo 8.223379]. After winning in 1919 the three first prizes in the national composition competition organized in the newly established Polish Republic, Tansman settled in Paris, where he had the support and encouragement of Ravel and Roussel.

He established friendly relations with composers of his own generation such as Milhaud and Honegger and was a member of the Ecole de Paris, a group of composers from central and eastern Europe that included Bohuslav Martinů, Marcel Mihalovici, Tibor Harsányi and Alexandre Tcherepnin. His compositions were conducted by the most famous conductors of the period, Serge Koussevitzky, Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Monteux, Vladimir Golschmann and Dimitri Mitropoulos.

In 1927–28 he made his first tour of the United States, performing, with Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony, his Second Piano Concerto, a work dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, who was present in the concert hall. In 1932–33 Tansman embarked on a world tour during which he had the opportunity, in India, to meet Ghandi. In New York he had the surprise of hearing his Four Polish Dances programmed by Toscanini with the New York Philharmonic. Later it was thanks to a committee established by Toscanini, Chaplin, Ormandy and Heifetz that he and his family were able to leave France, occupied at the beginning of the Second World War. During his exile in America his career underwent considerable development and his works were played by the best American orchestras (New York, Cleveland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, St Louis, Washington, and Cincinnati). He lived in Los Angeles and counted Stravinsky among his closest friends. From this almost daily contact later came a book on the Russian composer that is still regarded as authoritative.

When he returned to Paris, his European activity resumed. His works were directed by the most renowned conductors of the day, such as Rafael Kubelik, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Ferenc Fricsay, Charles Brück, Jean Fournet and Bruno Maderna. There were regular commissions from French radio and this final period brought an important number of compositions, among them the oratorio Isaië le Prophète, the opera Sabbataï Zevi and the Concerto for Orchestra [Marco Polo 8.223757].


MusicWeb International

“This disc was an absolute joy to listen to and will be welcomed by lovers of piano music everywhere.” – MusicWeb International