Martha Argerich has few peers in this repertoire today, and in terms of sheer spontaneity in performance she's simply in a class of her own. Chopin's concertos are early works, and they always have taken their share of abuse owing to the composer's somewhat clunky orchestration. Of course, no one ever has had anything to say against the piano part, which is marvelous and which dominates the proceedings to the point where the orchestra is pretty irrelevant anyway. What makes these performances so special is that Dutoit not only stays in the background, where he belongs, but actually manages to offer the kind of intimate support that allows Argerich to literally do whatever she wants. (David Hurwitz, classicstoday.com)
The contents of the EMI box are too numerous to list but all the sonatas, variations, and most short pieces are here: absent is the London Sketchbook, which is trite juvenalia.
If these performances of Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios by Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Lynn Harrell are suave and sophisticated with a soupçon of sentimentality, well, that's what modern performance practice was like in the '80s. And if that sounds like an appealing manner in which to perform Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios, this is the recording to hear. Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell lean into Beethoven's music, singing everything grandly, sounding everything gloriously, and souping everything up completely. One might argue that Beethoven's Piano Trios, Op. 1, are too Viennese High Classical to respond well to their approach, that the works seem more maimed and mauled then persuasively performed, but one cannot deny that Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell put every iota of their expressivity and virtuosity into their overpowering performances. EMI's early digital sound has been pleasantly remastered for this CD reissue.
This entry in mail-order firm Collectors' Choice Music's series of reissues of Nat King Cole albums pairs two instrumental collections he recorded in the 1950s. In its original form as a 10," eight-song LP, Penthouse Serenade, recorded on July 18, 1952, found Cole returning to the small-band format of his jazz playing days in an ensemble that featured him on piano, John Collins on guitar, Charles Harris on bass, and Bunny Shawker on drums (with Jack Costanzo joining in on bongos and conga on "Rose Room," "Once in a Blue Moon," and "Down by the Old Mill Stream"). Three years later, on July 14, 1955, Cole re-entered the studio to cut another four songs…
The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
Portrayed in Hilary and Jackie , notorious for her marriage to Daniel Barenboim and mourned for the life and career she lost to multiple sclerosis, Jacqueline du Pr+ª is still best remembered as one of the finest musicians Britain has ever produced. Few cellists could hope to achieve the level of mastery and emotion she poured into her treasured EMI recordings, collected here in complete form on 17 CDs: her stunning interpretations of Elgar, Dvorak, Beethoven, Schumann, Bach, Chopin, Haydn, Brahms, Strauss and more!
A new recording of Weber's piano concertos was obviously long overdue, and this one fits the bill more than adequately, coming as it does generously coupled with the much better known Konzertstück and in first-rate sound quality from HMV. Not the least of its virtues is the light it casts on the origins of the piano idiom of Chopin and Liszt and, in the case of the Konzertstück, on the very foundations of the romantic concerto. I wouldn't envy any historian out to determine who was responsible for which innovation in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, but certainly to hear so many fully-formed romantic textures in music dating from 1810-21 is an instructive, not to say startling, experience.
Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer suffered reprisals for her Jewish background, but after the Second World War she enjoyed her international breakthrough with Mozart playing of gentle elegance, supple virtuosity and dramatic power.