Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.
These classic performances belong in the collection of anyone who cares about Debussy's piano music. Certain creators and re-creators become synonymous. Beethoven and Schnabel, Chopin and Rubinstein at once spring to mind. Yet in the entire history of performance I doubt whether there has ever existed a more subtle or golden thread than that between Debussy and Demus. French jibes about the reduction of Debussy’s clarity to a charming but essentially decorative opalescence are little more than the bitter fruit of envy, of an exclusivity, that finds an Фгыекшфт pianist’s supreme mastery of their greatest composer’s elusive heart and idiom hard to stomach.
Tatiana Shebanova, who also features in the Fryderyk Chopin Institute’s on-going Real Chopin series (see review special, p83), gets her own complete, modern instrument (as opposed to Real Chopin’s historic instruments) cycle on the Polish label Dux. Arranged in opus order, it presents a satisfying survey of Chopin’s development, and it spares the listener from (for example) a lack of variety in the usual hour-long sequence of waltzes.
On this specially-priced 8-CD set Zoltan Kocsis performs the complete solo piano music of his fellow Hungarian, B la Bart k. Completed in 2001, these critically acclaimed, definitive performances are the benchmark against which all others are considered.
The very best of Deutsche Grammophon’s piano recordings on 40 CDs, limited edition. From Aimard (The Art of Fugue) to Zimerman (his prize-winning Debussy Preludes on 1 CD for the first time), comprising all the great names – Argerich, Barenboim, Michelangeli, Gilels, Haskil, Horowitz, Kempff, Kissin, Pogorelich, Pollini, Richter; and the new names – Blechacz, Grimaud, Lang Lang, Trifonov, Yuja Wang, Yundi – this is the ideal set to form the cornerstone of a piano collection.
While it is pleasurable to hear three of the world's best-known virtuosos playing together with such extraordinary sympathy and enthusiasm, the actual performances by violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Emanuel Ax on this disc of Mendelssohn's two piano trios are merely so-so. Each alone sounds marvelous Perlman with his sweet intonation, Ma with his lyrical phrasing, and Ax with his sonorous tone but together they are not quite the sum of their parts.