The thirty-five CDs that make up the present boxed set are designed to acquaint listeners with one of the most important pianists of the 20th century or, if they are already familiar with his work, to allow them to rediscover it anew. Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) was the final representative of the great tradition of German pianists that also included Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) and Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969). Of the three, Kempff had by far the longest career - he gave his last public concert in 1982.
The contents of the EMI box are too numerous to list but all the sonatas, variations, and most short pieces are here: absent is the London Sketchbook, which is trite juvenalia.
Ekaterina Derzhavina's name was new to me, but this 9-CD set of Haydn's complete piano sonatas should broaden her recognition considerably…Not surprisingly, since she plays all the sonatas, you can find better performances of some individual pieces, especially the later ones. But viewed as a survey of the entire corpus, her feel for Haydn's originality comes through brilliantly. Derzhavina is an exceptional artist, and rather magical.
The vast majority of Brazilian-born pianist Arnaldo Cohen's discography is devoted to the music of Franz Liszt. There is good reason for this; his technique and approach to the instrument seem especially suited for the demands Liszt makes of pianists, from extreme subtlety and introspection to the bravura, ostentatious displays of power and virtuosity. Cohen delivers all of this with remarkable clarity.
The exclusive Chandos artist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet performs all five of Prokofiev’s formidable piano concertos in partnership with Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic. The flair of Bavouzet for powerful twentieth-century repertoire was made clear in his recording of Bartók’s Piano Concertos, described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘vibrant in colour, vital in rhythm and detail, and viscerally exciting in impact’.
Daniel Barenboim is considered one of the greatest pianists and conductors of our time and may well be called a living legend. For his efforts towards reconciliation in the Middle East as well as his musical achievements, Barenboim has been the recipient of many prizes and honours. 2014 marks a very special anniversary for this extraordinary musician: 60 years as recording artist. To celebrate this occasion, Deutsche Grammophon and Daniel Barenboim will release a new recording of Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonatas. The sonatas are wonderful romantic music, and after recording them, Barenboim summarizes: “Schubert’s sonatas are a revelation. The music laughs and cries, it is at the same time sad and cheerful.”