Sandro Russo delves into the world of Chopin during his later years. “Chopin – Late Masterpieces” features some of his undisputed treasures from that period.
Chopin's late works represented groundbreaking, innovative piano compositions and proved to be beacons onto future generations of composers.
Steinway releases a new album from Sandro Russo titled Chopin: Late Masterpieces (STNS 30125) on October 4, 2019. Though Chopin’s life tragically came to an end at just 39, he remained productive during his final years, and the late-period compositions featured on this album proved inspirational to many composers that came after him, including Debussy, Ravel and Scriabin.
A turning point in Chopin’s late style undoubtedly arose from studying Cherubini’s Treatise on Counterpoint & Fugue (1841), as well as from his continual interest in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, which would be a source of inspiration throughout Chopin’s life. Interestingly, his newly acquired counterpoint mastery wasn’t channeled into new polyphonic forms, but rather into genres he previously treated in a somewhat “homophonic” manner – scherzos, mazurkas and polonaises, to name a few. New contrapuntal twists and inner voices now permeated even simple phrases, as in the middle section of the fourth Scherzo and in the bel canto melodies of the Berceuse and the Barcarolle. The harmonic sophistication and dramatic arch of the latter were unprecedented. Ravel, who wrote extensively about it, referred to its magical ending as a “mysterious apotheosis.”
The album closes with Chopin’s third piano sonata in B minor, a more expansive work than his two earlier sonatas. According to Russo, “while Chopin was generally more prolific in terms of shorter works, his achievement here clearly demonstrates his ability to cohesively weave a broad range of emotions into a larger work.”
“The Sicilian-born pianist projects crystalline clarity in sonorities, and transparency of sound, which did not lack moments of extreme intensity. He displayed a propensity for intimacy, meticulousness, and a soaring acrobatic virtuosity…”
Giornale di Sicilia
“Op. 56’s first and third Mazurkas abound with colourful inner-voice activity...The Polonaise-fantaisie is memorable for Russo’s flexible phrasing and organic transitions from one episode to the next...one will notice Russo’s particular attention to the accents and rests that often catch pianists unaware.”
“The Sonata in B Minor Op. 58 is a macrocosm of amplified emotions, an unrestricted cascade of brilliant phrases that command attention and challenge the performer both musically and technically. Sandro Russo is immaculate in both, bringing a fresh approach while keeping with the tradition of the grandiose Romantic era.”
Chopin: Late Masterpieces / Sandro Russo • STNS 30125
Release Date: 10/04/2019
Recorded February 11 and March 30, 2019 at Patrych Sound Studio, New York City.
Producer/Engineer Joseph Patrych
Mixing and Mastering: Joseph Patrych
Piano Technician: Kenneth Farnum, Jr.
Piano: Steinway Model D #147 (Hamburg)
Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
Photo of Sandro Russo: Jiyang Chen
About the Artist
Sandro Russo’s playing has often been referred to as a throwback to the grand tradition of elegant pianism and beautiful sound. Composer Lowell Liebermann wrote of him, “Sandro Russo is a musician's musician and a pianist's pianist. There is no technical challenge too great for him, but it is his musicianship that ultimately makes the greatest impression. His interpretations reveal a unique and profound artist at work.”
Born in San Giovanni Gemini, Italy, Mr. Russo displayed exceptional musical talent from an early age. He later entered the V. Bellini Conservatory, from where he graduated summa cum laude. He also earned the Pianoforte Performing Diploma from the Royal College of Music in London with honors. Soon after Mr. Russo moved to the United States in 2000, he won the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition, and has ever since performed in such prestigious concert halls as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Weill and Zankel halls at Carnegie Hall, Kilbourn Hall (Eastman Theatre), Salle Cortot in Paris, Teatro Politeama in Palermo, the Konzerthaus Berlin and Stoller Hall in Manchester (UK).
Mr. Russo’s performances have aired on all the major radio stations in the US and abroad. His previous recordings include Scarlatti Recreated – Transcriptions and Hommages and Russian Gems – Piano Rarities. The more recently released Steinway & Sons albums Rachmaninov – Solo Piano Works and Images et Mirages: Hommage à Debussy were both chosen “Disc of the Month” by Italy’s The Classic Voice magazine and the latter was also featured in Gramophone’s “Sounds of America.”
Sandro Russo is a Steinway Artist.
About Steinway & Sons label
The STEINWAY & SONS music label produces exceptional albums of solo piano music across all genres. The label — a division of STEINWAY & SONS, maker of the world’s finest pianos — is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.