Montgeroult: Études (Clare Hammond)

Colin Clarke
Wednesday, November 2, 2022

This is beautiful music, wonderfully recorded

Clare Hammond pf

BIS

This is a beautiful selection of 29 etudes from Hélène de Montgeroult's Cours complet pour l'enseignement du forte-piano, published in 1816 in three volumes. They certainly influenced the piano method of her pupil, the rather more famous Johann Baptist Cramer.

This is beautiful music, wonderfully recorded. Etude No 38 in A minor could be a Field Nocturne. Others call to mind Mendelssohn or Chopin. Etude No 52 seems like an exercise in narrative storytelling, while the sudden plunge into the minor in No 55 brings music that is remarkably tricky.

Born in pre-Revolutionary France, Montgeroult (1764-1835) participated in secret missions to England with her husband. After imprisonment in Naples, she returned to her native France, where she was imprisoned again during the Reign of Terror before becoming a professor at the Paris Conservatoire – the first woman to occupy a chair there.

Her Cours complet includes some 114 Etudes. Each one is listed with its number, key and intent (‘Pour jouer…’). Like Chopin's, these studies are real pieces of music, and many speak directly to the heart. Hammond is absolutely right to assert that, despite their date, Montgeroult's Etudes sit far closer to the Romantic sensibility than the Classical. Her brilliant performances are clearly the result of deep reflection.

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