Hélène de Montgeroult – À la source du piano romantique

L’Education Musicale, March 2009 (Sylvianne Falcinelli)

Jérôme Dorival does not exaggerate in hearing prefigurations of Chopin, Schumann, and even Brahms (Etude n° 104) in the most modern of the etudes composed between 1788 and 1810 for the Cours complet pour l’enseignement du fortepiano. Even the Sonatas, which more or less occupy the historical place one would expect – between Mozart and Beethoven – are not epigonic. The audacious Montgeroult cultivates the art of the unexpected and of rhythmic dynamism. Her works also contain a density (Etude n° 110 is as moving as a Beethoven Adagio) that ensures the listener’s attention never flags. Are the British better at “selling” composers – they managed to turn the insipid John Field into a precursor of Chopin – while there remained on this side of the Channel a musical treasure infinitely more expressive? The pianists Bruno Robilliard and Nicolas Stavy vie with each other to share with their listeners the myriad inspirations of a musician who lived a truly romantic life, rising far above what was commonly being done in French music at the time.

La Marseillaise, February 2009

This CD is a world premiere! I admit to not having known of Hélène de Montgeroult (1764-1836), praised as “the greatest French virtuoso of the Revolution and the Empire”. (…) The formidable pianist Nicolas Stavy has recorded a series of Etudes (including the superb n° 112!) excerpted from Montgeroult’s Cours complet and her 8th Sonata. Not to be missed!

Classica Répertoire n° 110, March 2009 (Jacques Bonnaure).

A milestone is reached every time there is a new release of Hélène de Montgeroult’s work. Not many of these milestones exist, though, as this is only the second CD to feature the work of this marvelous artist, following Bruno Robilliard’s CD, also on the Hortus label. (…) Some pieces on the recording are quite vast, and resemble Pièces de caractère or Klavierstücke in the German Romantic tradition. (…) This composer, a close contemporary of Mozart, anticipates Schubert and Mendelssohn and skirts around Beethoven, whose works she probably did not know (well); on the other hand, some of her pieces sound like homages to Bach. The Etude in A major (n° 110) is a kind of mysterious pre-Chopin nocturne; one would be hard-put to find anything similar in French music of the time. The listener clearly perceives that Hélène de Montgeroult was a first-rate artist, and that Nicolas Stavy is, too. (…) His flexible playing, musicality, and charming touch exalt the qualities of this sensitive and original composer.

Concertclassic, March 2009 Hélène de Montgeroult : “A marvelous link between Mozart and Chopin” (Alain Cochard)

Hélène de Montgeroult’s memory owes everything to Jérôme Dorival, author of the only book in French on this astonishing artist. Without the research and enthusiasm of this musician and historian, Nicholas Stavy’s CD, released on the Hortus label, would never have seen the light of day, nor would his Parisian recital have occurred. (…) Hélène de Montgeroult’s output is surprising for its thoroughly innovative character. Dorival describes her as “a marvelous link between Mozart and Chopin”. Her music is quoted in Schumann’s Album pour la jeunesse, and Dorival, who has done so much for Montgeroult’s rediscovery, speaks of “an uncanny resemblance between her Etude n° 55 and Schubert’s famous lied Auf dem Wasser zu Singen”.

Revue Pianiste, May-June 2009 (Thomas Herreng)

Although they were published in a “Cours complet pour l’enseignement du piano”, the pieces in this recital have nothing didactic about them – but they do demand great technical skill. Some of the Etudes clearly prefigure Chopin (n° 77 and n° 110, which is like a Nocturne), while the Eighth Sonata calls up Schubert through its freedom. A thrilling discovery.