'No doubt about it: Antonin Reicha ranks among the great masters of music history from the transitional period between Viennese classicism and Romanticism.'
No one could pretend that Dvorak's solo piano music stands up either to his best orchestral and chamber scores or to the keyboard music of his more piano-wise contemporaries, from Gottschalk through Brahms to Fauré. But while it's rarely deep or especially idiomatic in its handling of the instrument, much of it has a melodic abundance and a rhythmic vitality that make it more engaging than its overall neglect would lead you to believe. Especially given the absence of the Kvapil cycle from the current catalog, therefore, the inauguration of Inna Poroshina's new series is most welcome.
Tchaikovsky completed his last set of piano pieces about six months before his death. Each bears a dedication to a friend or colleague including distinguished musicians such as Paul Pabst, Vasily Sapelnikov and Vasily Safonov. The 18 pieces are no mere salon effusions; rather they are richly characterised, sometimes virtuosic, and perfectly crafted miniatures. Schumann and Chopin are deliberately evoked, the music embracing a rich variety of dance, melancholy, fantasy and bravura. The set is played by the brilliant young prizewinner of the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2008, Konstantin Shamray.
Paavo Järvi’s remarkably fresh-sounding Tchaikovsky Pathétique emphasizes the music’s lyricism and singing line, with flowing tempos and unforced, natural phrasing throughout. Accordingly the strings predominate in this performance, and the Cincinnati players make beautiful sounds, especially in the outer movements. Järvi treats the first movement’s “big tune” as a love song that grows more impassioned with each appearance. On the other hand he leads a quite angry development section, with biting brass ratcheting up the tension. The second movement goes at a lively, dancing pace, while Järvi’s quick-stepping third-movement march generates real excitement in its second-half, with brilliant playing by the Cincinnati brass.
The Japanese company, BMG Japan, sorted the original RCA RED SEAL CDs according to the composers and the year when the music pieces were created. BEST100 series are the best representative CDs, which were carefully chosen from those music pieces by acting and recording, and they were released again with the mark of RCA BEST100. These CDs are the most impressive records in the classical field at RCA’s best. Theoretically, we could find the single originals of those CDs, but BMG Japan reorganised excellently for everyone. During BMG Japan period, it was released for the first time in 1999 and for the second time in 2008 after SONY took over BMG. BEST100 series belong to the latter.
Philippe Herreweghe, principal conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, has devoted himself for over ten years to fresh and invigorating readings of the (pre-) Romantic repertoire. Together with the Collegium Vocale, founded in 1970 by Philippe Herreweghe himself, and superb soloists they perform Dvořák’s Requiem.
The liner notes of this collection of the complete Dvorák symphonies are at best peculiar and at worst off putting. Rather than focusing on the symphonies themselves, their historical significance, or Dvorák's compositional evolution, they instead concentrate on lauding the conductor, the fame of the orchestra, and the number of albums sold when these recordings were first released. All of this may be more tolerable if the recordings themselves lived up to the hype. But, sadly, they do not. While the performances are certainly adequate, they fail to bring anything new or special to the listener. The earlier symphonies, which are not Dvorák's strongest from a compositional standpoint, are not infused with any extra energy or vitality to make them more captivating to the listener. Sound quality throughout the cycle is often dull; lower instruments such as the basses and tympani sound as if they are playing from under a pillow. Even the more popular latter symphonies (Seven, Eight, and Nine) are simply adequate. The brass playing, particularly in the Eighth Symphony, is frequently not together and the sound quality is unattractive. If listeners are in the market for a complete set of these symphonies, they would do well to consider the set made by the London Symphony Orchestra under Istvan Kertesz instead.