'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.
András Schiff is one of the most prominent members of a generation of Hungarian pianists born in the years following the Second World War, along with such artists as Zoltán Kocsis, Dezsö Ránki, and Jenö Jandó. Of this remarkable group, Schiff has achieved the greatest international reputation, due not only to his decision to pursue his career outside of Hungary, but also thanks to his finely shaded sense of touch and an impressive memory that allows him to present, in concerts and recordings, large portions of a composer's oeuvre.
Unrivalled in the catalogue, this box brings together all the works in a genre for which Dvořák has been undervalued. The composer was himself a lifelong Catholic, a man of uncomplicated faith and not prey to spiritual torments in the manner of his contemporary Bruckner.
This is a fine Testament release taken from the archives of Netherlands Radio and enshrines some magnificent Barbirolli performances in somewhat opaque sound. The Satie Gymnopedie's have a delicate and loving sound that reveal Sir John's deep and intrinsic love for the miniaturistic charm of these enchanting pieces. Britten's 'Sinfonia da Requiem' was another Barbirolli speciality and this is one of many recordings available. However it is intriguing to observe the special attention and alertness that the Concertgebouw players impart to the music that takes on an added grandeur. However it is the Dvořák Seventh that is the real highlight of the disc as it is a version to die for! Sir John handles the music with real imagery and heart-on-sleeve emotion that almost rivals Kertész and Sejna, my other preferred versions in this landmark work.