Well into the first half of the 20th century, Sergei Bortkiewicz remained an unreconstructed Romantic composer, a product of the influences of Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, and Robert Schumann in his youth, and his long career showed little change in this style. Bortkiewicz's solo piano music offers flashes of technical brilliance, and in some ways it is comparable to the early work of his Russian contemporaries, Sergei Rachmaninov and Alexander Scriabin, though its sentimentality often makes it seem derivative of parlor music of the fin de siècle.
This grande dame of the piano world, possessed of an extraordinarily modest, charming personality – focused on the music, devoted to deeply understanding it – has performed three times during the Chopin and His Europe Festival at the invitation of The Fryderyk Chopin Institute. The recordings on this album come from her concerts in 2010 (when she performed the Piano Concerto in F minor op. 21 with the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green) and 2014 (when she performed a recital including, among other items, the Nocturnes presented here). A presentation of – by nature – completely different interpretations, which nonetheless form an extraordinarily coherent artistic whole. Superb creations displaying the most beautiful side of pianistic art.
In the third of three new landmark albums on the Decca label, Nelson Freire marks his 70th birthday year with a stunning recording of Chopin’s lyrical and brilliant Piano Concerto No. 2. The recording was made in Cologne with the Gurzenich-Orchester Koln and Lionel Bringuier, one of the most talked-about of the younger generation of conductors. The release also features some favorite Chopin solo works including a Ballade, Berceuse, Polonaise and three Mazurkas.
Joaquim Homs was a Catalonian composer, schooled in Schoenberg's twelve-tone techniques, so one might expect to hear music that shouts "I'm different, I'm learned, respect me!" However, Homs' piano music, particularly as played by Jordi Masó, speaks more for the person who wrote it, rather than for itself. Much of it is atonal and composed following prescribed techniques, but it is at the same time very evocative and emotionally expressive.AllMusic
There's no question about pianist Kateryna Titova's technique in her debut recital, and a good thing, too, since the program consists entirely of works by Rachmaninov, the composer of some of the most transcendentally difficult piano music of the fin de siècle. But no matter what the Russian composer asks for -- be it the tumults of notes that open the Allegro agitato of his Second Piano Sonata, the ethereal ostinatos that start the Prélude in G minor, the monumental sonorities that fill the Prélude in C sharp minor, or the feathery arabesques that saturate the composer's transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee -- the young Ukrainian-born, German-based pianist nails them all. If that were all Titova brought to this music, it would be remarkable but not unusual; there are many pianists out there who could do the same...James Leonard, Rovi
Almost four hours of music constitutes exceptional value especially when, tucked away among a selection of Mazurkas, is Chopin's early "Variations on a German National Air". Vásáry charms you into wondering why it is so rarely heard.