A really unique achievement to celebrate Shostakovich's centennial: the only complete edition of his solo piano music, including previously unrecorded pieces. Petrushansky's familiarity with Shostakovich's music and his pianistic pedigree (he was the last pupil of Heinrich Neuhaus) are all guarantees for a box that will be an absolute reference.
Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968) belonged to the group of Italian composers (the so called ‘Generation of the ‘80s’), his contemporaries were Respighi, Malipiero and Casella. Of these composers, Respighi and Pizzetti composed relatively little for the piano, and their works for the instrument tend recall music of the past - with echoes of baroque and Gregorian chant detected in many of them. Pizzetti’s love of melody is quintessentially Italian – a predilection for song, dramatic lyricism and at time moments of great joy and passion – all components found in not only his orchestral music, but in the works for piano on these CD's. Many are exquisite miniatures, but ……
Perhaps what strikes the ear first about Alberto Ginastera's music is the convincing and intelligible way in which the composer utilizes dissonance to create lucid gestures and expressions. Ginastera seems to know just where and how to place his sonic gnarls and knots so that that they appear as beauty marks instead of blemishes. The Three Pieces for Piano (1940) readily exemplify this aspect of Ginastera's musical language…….
Alberto Ginastera's Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22, exemplifies the stylistic traits associated with what scholars have described as Ginastera's "subjective nationalist" period. In earlier works, such as the Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2, from 1937, and the Creole Faust Overture from 1943, Ginastera borrowed from, modeled on, and/or made explicit references to dance and song styles from the folk traditions of his native Argentina. Beginning in the late '40s and early '50s, however, ……
Alfredo Casella was an outstanding if uneven composer who led several of his contemporaries – Respighi, Malipiero, Pizzetti, and others – in a struggle to modernize Italian music. His interests as a composer and as an author of articles on music were highly cosmopolitan, as may be gathered from his early enthusiasms for Debussy, the Russian nationalists, Strauss, Bartók, and Schoenberg. Yet Casella was also intensely inspired by Italian culture, both its folkways and its Futurism movement.
Weinberg’s fraught early life included two dramatic escapes from the Nazis, as he made his way from his native Poland to the Soviet Union. His eventual arrival in Moscow in August 1943 saw a period of relative stability in his personal life and an extraordinary burst of creative vitality. Sonata No 3, composed in the space of a week at the end of January 1946, represents a conspicuous advance on its predecessors. The deeply expressive, technically challenging and superbly varied Nos 5 (1956) and 6 (1960) are the last of the numbered piano sonatas.
The third volume of the complete piano works focuses on the three sets of Children’s Notebooks, 23 charming miniatures written to meet the strong demand for music for children in the Soviet Union. Weinberg’s sets, however, were criticised for so-called inappropriate sophistication. The 21 Easy Pieces for Piano, Op 34 are mood pictures, less technically demanding than the Notebooks but certainly not aimed at beginners.
Saint-Saëns’s first published works for piano were the vivid and characterful Six Bagatelles, Op 3. Album, Op 72 dates from his mid-career and teems with rich colours and textures—haunting and exciting alike. Elsewhere, in this third volume of the Complete Piano Music, we find the richly evocative tone poem Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, paraphrases, and some delicious encores.
Saint-Saëns was a piano virtuoso and a composer of bravura brilliance. His Six Fugues, Op 161 are masterly and complex character studies, devoid of academic leanings, whilst his famous Allegro appassionato, Op 70 possesses brilliance and lyrical depth. The Thème varié, Op 97 is witty and explosive, the Suite, Op 90 full of charm, and the Allegro, Op 29 possessed of dazzling breadth.