'No doubt about it: Antonin Reicha ranks among the great masters of music history from the transitional period between Viennese classicism and Romanticism.'
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.
On one end of the continuum, there is Dvorák's Concerto in B minor for cello and orchestra, a composition that is among the composer's best known and has become a cornerstone of the instrument's repertoire. On the other end, the Piano Concerto in G minor, a work that had difficulty garnering acceptance even during the composer's lifetime and is still looked upon with less favor than other concertos written in the same period.