Huit Préludes pour le piano
Eight Preludes for the Piano

Year of composition

1947-1948

Duration

21'

Scored for

piano

Publication information

Universal Edition, edited by Paul Badura-Skoda (UE35753)

Commentary

Frank Martin wrote the Eight Preludes for Piano for the pianist Dinu Lipatti, one of his closest and dearest friends. Before he began work on the pieces, he intended to write twelve preludes, but in the course of composing he changed his mind, and wrote only eight. At the time he was working on the Preludes, Martin had Lipatti’s playing and his unusual touch in his ear, and these were a great inspiration to him.
When Martin had completed the Preludes he gave them to Lipatti when they met in London, and it was here that the pianist gave his first recital in the Wigmore Hall in the spring of 1948. The composer wrote a poetic dedication in the manuscript:

To take your ten magic fingers for a walk
I would have needed twelve magic gardens.
Now there are but eight, and poor pieces for a fairy.
For the Muse punished me in my slow search for sounds
Too oft with contempt for my syntheses.

Dinu was very pleased and said he would play them in public in two years time. When he saw the look of surprise on the composer’s face, he added: ‘I think an interpreter needs two years to fully assimilate a work like this’. This was a fine proof of his artistic conscience, which was without doubt an important feature of Lipatti’s greatness. Sadly, the illness that finally claimed his life after years of untiring resistance was beginning to make itself felt at this time. Dinu Lipatti died at the end of 1950 without ever having given a public performance of the Preludes.
Maria Martin, 1966

Premiere

World premiere: Lausanne, 22 March 1950 (broadcast) Leysin; 1950 (public performance) Denise Bidal

Recordings (selective list)

  • ‘Frank Martin interprète Frank Martin’
    Frank Martin, piano
    Jecklin-Disco JD 563-2 ℗ + © 1989 (FMS032)

  • ‘Das solo Klavierwerk Frank Martin’
    Sebastian Benda, piano
    FSM FCD 97 211 ℗ + © 1996 (FMS010)

  • ‘Music for the mourning spirit’
    Thomas Beijer, piano
    Gutman Records CD171 ℗ 2012/2013 (FMS023)

  • ‘20th Century Piano Classics’
    Diane Walsh, piano
    Music & Arts CD-669 1991 (FMS099)

  • ‘Frank Martin Piano Music’
    Julie Adam, piano
    ABC Classics 4762601 ℗ + © 2005 (FMS103)

  • Lucia Negro, piano
    BIS -CD-71 © 1976 & ℗ 1996 (FMS104)

  • Klaus Sticker, piano
    THOROFON CTH2478 ℗ + © 2003 (FMS121)

  • ‘Intégrale pour piano solo Frank Martin’
    Daniel Spiegelberg, piano
    GALLO CD-636 ℗ + © 1991 (FMS168)

  • Esther Flückiger, piano
    NUOVO ERA 7057 ℗ + © 1991 (FMS171)

  • Kathryn Stott, piano
    BIS CD-1637 © + ℗ 2007 (FMS184)

  • ‘Musique suisse du XXᵉ siècle’
    Lorris Sehonkian, piano
    JEAN MAURER CD-649 ℗ + © 1996 (FMS067)

  • Jean-Léon Cohen, piano
    forgotten records fr 23C ℗ 2013 (FMS167)

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