Fantasies & Rhapsodies
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Inspired programming traces free forms through Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras.

Since the Renaissance, keyboard composers have used the titles Fantasia and Fantasy to designate a work that has a relatively free form, where they could allow their imaginations to take flight without the necessity of being restricted to previously existing models. Similar in providing a vehicle for a free approach to form and imaginative exploration, the term Rhapsody also traditionally suggests an epic quality. Pianist Geoffrey Duce has chosen a program of both these forms for this recording with works spanning the Baroque to the 20th Century. Known as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber music collaborator, Duce has performed in major venues in the U.S. and Europe such as the Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, and the Wigmore Hall. His awards include the Making Music Award from Britain's National Federation of Music Societies and the Prix de Piano at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. Duce studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester University, Universität der Künste Berlin, and the Manhattan School of Music. He is currently on the faculty at Illinois State University, has served as a resident international visiting faculty member at the University of Taipei, and has given masterclasses around the world.
C.P.E. Bach, composer
Fantasia in B-Flat Major, Wq. 61:3, H. 289
Geoffrey Duce (piano)

C.P.E. Bach, composer
Fantasia in C Major, Wq. 61:6, H. 291
Geoffrey Duce (piano)

John McCabe, composer
Fantasy on a Theme of Liszt
Geoffrey Duce (piano)

Franz Schubert, composer
Fantasie in C Major, D 605A "Grazer"
Geoffrey Duce (piano)

Ernst Von Dohnányi, composer
Four Rhapsodies, Op. 11
Geoffrey Duce (piano)

Intelligent programming, intelligent playing, intelligent notes by pianist, intelligent layout and design. What more could one ask for? Very little: this is one of the best conceived discs I’ve heard recently. The Scottish-born pianist has an impressive resume which touches base with many countries and includes a Doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, an Associate Professor of Piano at Illinois State University and American Record Guide September/October 2023 many other achievements—very well covered in the notes. Opening with CPE Bach’s occasional jettison of bar lines in his Fantasias in B-flat and in C brings us an upbeat, perky and impressively executed bit of the composer’s whimsy that extends into the John McCabe Fantasy on a theme of Liszt and Schubert’s “Graz” Fantasy in C. You would be hard pressed to identify which theme was used by McCabe for his piece since it is never directly quoted, but we are told it is there. The almost 13-minute duration is rarely a trial to listen to, but it is the most abstract and my least favorite of these selections. Schubert’s “Graz” Fantasy is a rarely heard delight that has you wishing for more, and that is fulfilled by all four of Ernst Von Dohnanyi’s Rhapsodies Op.11. The Rhapsodies, late romanticism in full flower, present a most satisfying grouping. The final Andante Lugubre uses the Dies Irae theme and ties things together into a neat package. All is brilliantly played by Duce, who has mastered all the color and subtle dynamics needed. And yes, the sound of the Hamburg Steinway is impressive. Despite my gripes about the McCabe, this is a must acquisition. (American Record Guide)