VALSE ROMANTIQUE is concert maestro James Spencer's second album in the "PIANO CLASSICS" series. VALSE ROMANTIQUE transports the listener back in time to the grand ballrooms of the Belle Epoque era as James Spencer and guest pianist Roger Helkein serenade you with a breathtaking array of grand waltzes for your listening enjoyment. VALSE ROMANTIQUE is the perfect album companion for your next elegant dinner party, high tea, your daily drive, holiday event, or for general relaxation. If you loved Spencer's dreamy, and meditative PIANO CLASSICS FOR REFLECTION, as heard on Itunes, classical radio stations and podcasts, then you are are sure to love the festive, lilting and sparkling VALSE ROMANTIQUE.
James Spencer with guest artist Roger Helkein open the album with the dazzling "Waltz" from Tchaikovsky's ballet suite SLEEPING BEAUTY as arranged for piano: four hands by Sergei Rachmaninoff. SLEEPING BEAUTY was the first ballet completed by Tchaikovsky in 1890 and the waltz is forever linked with the song "Once Upon a Dream" from Disney's animated film SLEEPING BEAUTY. As a child James Spencer developed a love of ballet after seeing SLEEPING BEAUTY performed by the Bolshoi. James and Roger continue the Tchaikovsky set with The "Waltz" from SWAN LAKE as arrange by Edouard Langer. The album ends with Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" from THE NUTCRACKER as penned in a virtuosic four hand arrangement by Stepan Esipoff.
Gabriel Faure wrote DOLLY SUITE for piano-four hands between 1893-1896 to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer's mistress.
An orchestral version of the suite was scored in 1906 by Henri Rabaud, and has, like the original piano duet version, received several recordings. The best-known section of the suite, the Berceuse, has been arranged for several combinations of instruments.
The suite, consisting of six short pieces, each with its own title: Berceuse, Mi-a-ou, Le jardin de Dolly, Kitty-valse, Tendresse and Le pas espagnol. The complete suite takes about fifteen minutes to perform.
Mia-a-ou and Kitty Valse were inspired by the composer's pet "Kitty" cat and are in Parisien salon mode.
The romantic Russian composer Eduard Schutt, penned the very popular Belle Epoque waltz A LA BIEN AIMEE which was no. 2 in his PAPILLONS D'AMOUR , op. 59. The waltz became extremely popular throughout Europe and later America. The piece was so popular that many piano rolls were made of it. The great pianist Leopold Godowsky (who shares a birthday with James Spencer: February 13) made a virtuosic transcription of it. James dedicates this track to his mother, soubrette coloratura soprano Dolores Aimee Berea Spencer.
James' great great grandfather is the well known Galician composer Canuto Berea, in honor of his Spanish heritage, James includes the seldom played CHAMPAGNE VALSE of composer Isaac Albeniz.
Emmanuel Chabrier's four hand collection TROIS VALSES ROMANTIQUES seemed apropos and a great compliment to the other valses on the album.
Debussy's VALSE ROMANTIQUE, L. 71 is alas a seldom played Impressionistic waltz written in 1890. This is one of Debussy's early works and published by Choudon in Paris. Debussy was still experimenting with harmonic sonority, moving between romantic idioms and his forward thinking Impressionistic style. Thus Debussy refused to play this work and hampered it's successful circulation.
JE TE VEUX is a Parisien waltz and song by Erik Satie, composed in 1897. Satie wrote it for the singer Paulette Darty whom he had toured with an accompanied. The work was put into a solo piano version around 1903.
James Spencer is a noted recording artist in classical piano and jazz piano. HIs classical album PIANO CLASSICS FOR REFLECTION has been heard on national radio stations and in podcast. James' jazz albums NIGHTFALL, and BLUE GARDENIA have received a following, especially as heard on international podcast COCKTAIL NATION, MARTINI HOUR and COOL JAZZ CONNECTION.
James is a published author and musicologist. His books: LADY LIBERTY: THE DEFINITIVE JULIE LONDON HANDBOOK and AN HISTORICAL STUDY OF KURT WEILL'S DER SILBERSEE are currently available from Amazon.
James is the founder of SPENCER MUSIC AND ARTIST DEVELOPMENT located in Belmont Shore, California. He coaches artists of all ages and levels in: keyboard, voice, acting, strings, music composition, music therapy and music industry.
For information: 562 394 2694.
Roger Helkein and James Spencer met back in 1985 while both competing in Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition held in Palm Desert, California. Later forming the EN BLANC ET NOIR PIANO ENSEMBLE, Roger and James have focused on recording and performing 4-hand French repertoire. They recently performed the original two piano version of Darius Milhaud's LE BOEUF SUR LA TOIT for Ballet Masques out of Orange County, California. Roger Helkein currently resides in Monte Carlo where he has a private studio, and hosts summer piano workshops.
James would like to dedicate this album to 3 significant ballet artists:
Patty Rivadeneyra: James' first "steady'. James met Patty in junior high school in Huntington Beach, California where Patty was studying ballet and James-piano. Still close friends they have shared a life time love of dance.
Yuric Ericsson: Ballet principal with Royal Ballet of Sweden, James met his Yuric when James was rehearsal accompanist for a production of Sleeping Beauty. Sharing a deep, intimate creative partnership, they continue to keep their long distance friendship strong and have collaborated on ballet projects over the last few years.
Mikhail Baryshnikov: Yuric introduced James to Mikhail at a party in honor of Royal Ballet held in Palm Springs, in the early 1990s. James, just finishing up a Bachelor of Music from Cal State Fullerton had the pleasure of playing movements from Prokofiev's Sonata no. 2 for Mikhail.
VALSE ROMANTIQUE was recorded on a Hamburg Steinway, in 4 recording sessions held in Newport Coast, California in the private ballroom of a patron of the En Blanc et Noir ensemble. The recordings were held in late June, of 2014. The album was mastered by Gerald Adamowitz for Adamos Recordings.
Acknowledgements from James Spencer: " Roger is is truly such an honor to have the opportunity to record with the greatest pianist I know. I love how effortless the music feels, and how you feel like you are an extension of myself. What a dream to finally record Tchaikovsky's ballet waltzes... and what a lovely gift you give me to leave these recordings not only for posterity but to inspire my nephew Matthew Spencer (as he pursues studies in classical piano), and for my adorable new niece Caroline who I know some day will be enchanted by the music of Tschaikovsky as I was as a child and still am. I will miss you my friend... and send you a bon voyage back to Monte Carlo.. One of these days we will get around to recording the Poulenc and Mozart double piano concerti.."
I also dedicate this all those who love ballet, and the all those who choose to live in the now moment in wonder of the simplistic gifts the world can offer.. MUSIC NATURE, and A JOYFUL HEART.