A new CD has been published by Romantic Discoveries Recordings.
Total time: 76 minutes 47 seconds
1. Nadeshda, fantasia on the opera by Arthur Goring Thomas (1850-92), op. 211b 2. Aspiration (mélodie), op. 208 no. 1 3. Inquiétude (impromptu), op. 208 no. 2 4. Gavotte and Musette, op. 188 5. Vie orageuse (Deuxième ballade), op. 203 6. Chant de berceau, op. 156 7. Harmonies du soir (morceau élégant), op. 54 8. Menuet romantique, op. 174 9. Rayons d’or (Bagatelle), op. 176 10. Happy memories (morceau de salon), op. 77 11. Kermesse (Scène hollandaise), op. 181 12. Voix du coeur (Mélodie), op. 178 13. Zeffiretta (Morceau de salon), op. 159 14. Bacchanale, op. 170
Our thanks to the Sydney Smith Archive for supplying scores of these rare works.
Sydney Smith represents a lost generation of English composer-pianists who enjoyed both critical and commercial success in his heyday, only to be eclipsed by a rapid change in musical fashion that was compounded by his own ill-health. Born in Dorchester, in close proximity to Thomas Hardy, Smith won a place at the Leipzig Conservatoire aged seventeen and studied there for three years under Moscheles and Plaidy (piano) and Grutzmacher (cello). The Crown Prince of Prussia was apparently greatly impressed with his talent, and Smith’s move to London in 1859 marked the beginning of a career as a recitalist (notably at the Crystal Palace) and teacher. Added to this was the beginning of a prolific career as a melodic and effective composer of works for the salon and concert hall, many of which became included in popular anthologies of piano music of the day. This oeuvre made Smith one of the most famous musicians of his day, not only in England, but in Australia, America and continental Europe, and his name became a household word. Smith was particularly known for his virtuoso opera transcriptions, but as this album will show, was also gifted in a variety of short original forms, including characteristic dances and evocative mood-pieces. These works are written in a masterly way for the piano, showing a mature understanding of pianistic effect (with a good deal of influence from Chopin and Liszt) and providing a considerable technical challenge for the performer. The present recital offers probably the only opportunity at the moment to hear any of Arthur Goring Thomas’s last opera “Nadeshda” and is otherwise devoted to a varied selection of Smith’s original works, concentrating particularly on those from his later years.