Glenn Gould was this century's greatest Bach player, so these legendary recordings are self-recommending. While other fine pianists have made powerful statements in this music, no one sounds anything like Gould. His phenomenal clarity of articulation, digital control, and well, just plain interesting way with the music set him completely apart from the competition. With playing of this individuality and quality, it's pointless to engage in any debate with respect to the appropriateness of the piano versus the harpsichord. Scholars and pedants may continue to argue, but the fact is, it doesn't matter. Great musicianship always serves great music best.-David Hurwitz
The previous two CDs from pianist Michael Rische of the Piano Concertos of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach have been universally acclaimed for their high degree of musicality and the pianist’s passionate commitment to this composer. And in fact, much of the work of this highly original genius remains to be discovered. The 300th Birthday of Bach's second son offers an ideal occasion to become better acquainted with this extraordinary and surprising composer. In addition to the solo concertos, this CD also presents the Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra Wq 46. In each work, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach makes the claim - once again – of his unique place in the history of music, and as evident in these vital, life-affirming performances, is one of the truly great “rediscovered” composers of the past.
Listening to this irresistibly joyful and magnificently musical set of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites, one is immediately struck by two thoughts. First, Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan have been wasting their time concentrating on Bach's dour cantatas, and second, Bach himself was wasting his time writing his melancholy church music when he could have been composing infinitely more cheerful secular music. While Suzuki and his crew have turned in superlatively performed, if spectacularly severe recording of the cantatas, they sound just as virtuosic and vastly more comfortable here.
Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series reaches its 70th album with this program of three concertos by women. The ongoing success of the series suggests that audiences are ready and waiting for wider repertoire, and pianist Danny Driver and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Rebecca Miller deliver a real find here. The Piano Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 45, of American composer Amy Beach has been performed and recorded, but it's been in search of a recording that captures the autobiographical quality of the work, well sketched out in the booklet notes by Nigel Simeone. Essentially, Beach faced creative repression from her religious mother and to a lesser extent from her husband, who allowed her to compose, but only rarely to perform. These experiences, it may be said, poured out in this towering Brahmsian, four-movement piano concerto, which sets up an unusual quality of struggle between soloists and orchestra. It's this dynamic that's so well captured by Driver and Miller (who happen to be married to each other). Sample the opening movement, which has lacked this quality in earlier performances.
The Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra is one of Cage's most delicate works. The orchestra is treated as a group of soloists throughout, and for the most part operate with a small set of pitches and timbres, but is extended by a large array of percussion instruments played by four players. The piano, played by the superb contemporary piano interpreter Stephen Drury, weaves between the orchestral sonorities, rarely taking extended solos, as the piece becomes progressively more sparse until it tapers into silence at the end.