Let this CD carry you away on an exquisite, international journey starting in Switzerland. Liszt wrote three books of compositions inspired by his travels, called “Années de Pélerinage” (years of pilgrimage). Au bord d’une source (at the spring), in the first volume, related to his experiences of Switzerland. This piece is imbued with the sights and sounds of the Swiss countryside, whose beauty enchanted him. Next we move on to Italy. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca is part of the second collection, based on Liszt’s impressions of Italy. Liszt was so moved by this renaissance sonnet that he decided to write first a song, then this piano solo based on the text. It is a tempestuous, passionate, improvisatory composition. Carry on to Venice with Chopin’s Barcarolle, Op.60, one of the great creations of Chopin’s maturity. This extended composition was inspired by the traditional Venetian gondolier’s song. The music depicts a romantic encounter between two people on a gondola. The left hand represents the lulling, constant wash of waves against the gondola; the right hand represents the conversation of the two lovers.
Now on to the “Estampes” (prints) collection by Debussy. Relax in Japan with Pagodes (pagodas), where you listen to the sounds and atmosphere of an oriental temple. Then spend an evening in Spain with Debussy’s Soirée dans Grenade (evening in Granada), a beautiful composition containing a little flamenco, some guitar moments, Spanish melodies, and lots of castanets and tambourines. On to Jardins sous la pluie (gardens in the rain) where one can delight in the atmosphere of capricious April showers punctuated by raindrops and downpours. In the finale the sun breaks out, transforming the garden into a thousand lights and colors.
We end our enchanting musical journey back in Switzerland with Rachmaninoff’s Prelude, Op. 32, No. 10. This beautiful prelude was inspired by the Swiss artist Arnold Boecklin’s painting “The Return.” It depicts someone coming home from a funeral and the depth of emotions brought on by that event. The sound of bells, which fascinated Rachmaninoff from an early age, can be heard throughout this prelude.
Louise Costigan-Kerns has performed internationally as a concert pianist, accompanist and conductor. She began studying the piano at age two and a half with her mother in Alberta, Canada. At age five she gave her first public recita,l and began competing in Alberta Music Festivals, where she was a consistent winner through high school. After earning her Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, she taught on the piano faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School and was the Founding Director of the New England Conservatory Extension Division Opera Studio. In Boston she studied piano with Irma Wolpe and Victor Rosenbaum, opera with John Moriarty and Boris Goldovsky and vocal repertoire with Allen Rogers. She maintained an active performing career in the Boston area as a solo pianist and accompanist. Over the years she was a member of the Opera Department faculty at Boston University, piano faculty at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Artist in Residence at Brandeis University. In 1994 she moved with her family to the San Francisco Bay Area. In the Bay Area she has worked for Opera San Jose, Stanford University, San Francisco Conservatory and the San Francisco Symphony. She is active as a recital pianist, opera coach and accompanist for singers and instrumentalists. Her first solo piano CD, “My Favorite Performances” was released in December 2004. “Piano With Passion”, her second CD, was released in December, 2007.