Liszt poured a wealth of ingenuity and an astonishing degree of diversity into works for piano. EMI Classics' exclusive 10-CD set of Liszt's greatest piano works features keyboard virtuosi from generations past and present including Leif Ove Andsnes, Aldo Ciccolini, Georges Cziffra and Lionel Rogg.
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)
EMI Classics is proud to release the complete EMI recordings of one of the most well-known pianists, Samson François. This exclusive 36-CD box set includes all his early recordings that were mainly devoted to Frédéric Chopin. The height of Samson's art is probably to be found in the ballades (recorded between 26 and 28 October 1954, and first issued as an immensely successful 10" LP) and the dazzling interpretation of the nocturnes (recorded in May and June 1966). In the ballades and the nocturnes Samson establishes an allembracing color with the aid of the loud pedal, although he modulates its power and creates a rainbow effect through the highly skilled, yet quite unpredictable use of the soft pedal.
Yves Nat's performance of the Beethoven sonatas is a remarkable feat–His interpretations are "natural" as though the music is being composed as he plays. Therefore, the performances offer an inner satisfaction to the listener. Nat is also a great pianist with a beautiful tone and solid technique welded to his conceptions. A sleeper set that stands comparison to more famous versions.
By virtue of their diverse styles and extraordinary technical demands, Ravel's solo piano works present a daunting challenge to anyone who would record them as a complete set. From the sublime Pavane pour une infante défunte and the crystalline Sonatine, to the dazzling impressionism of Miroirs and the nightmarish intricacies of Gaspard de la nuit, Ravel's keyboard music reflects all aspects of his spontaneous imagination and his involved artistic development. Few performers have completely mastered this complex body of work and recorded it superbly, but versatile Canadian pianist Louis Lortie is in that select company. His 1988 performances have been esteemed for their consistency, sensitivity, and compelling energy, and this reissue from Chandos is likely to garner even more praise for Lortie. Previously available in two volumes, this double disc is newly remastered, and Lortie sounds better than ever, particularly in such exquisite works as Le tombeau de Couperin and Valses nobles et sentimentales. Lortie's careful shading of subordinate lines and subtle use of dynamics in his coloristic effects invite repeated listening. Best of all, he captures Ravel's dry wit and irony with his mannered shaping of gestures, most effectively in Le tombeau, the Sérénade grotesque, and the Menuet antique.
Fans of either cellist Mstislav Rostropovich or pianist Sviatoslav Richter will have to hear the performances on this two-disc Doremi set. It contains the four pieces they performed in Moscow on March 1, 1950 Brahms' Sonata No. 1 and Beethoven's sonatas No. 3 and No. 4, plus the world premiere of Prokofiev's sonata and two of the pieces they played at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 20, 1964 Grieg's sonata as well as another Brahms' Sonata No. 1.
For Evgeny Kissin, recording Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto must be déjà vu all over again, to quote noted American philosopher Yogi Berra, because every time the Russian pianist switches labels, he records the piece again. In 1985, he recorded it for RCA with Andrei Chistyakov and the Moscow Philharmonic, and in 1994, he recorded it for Deutsche Grammophon with Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2008 he recorded it for EMI with Vladimir Ashkenazy leading the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Claudio Arrau is widely considered by many to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. This collection contains many of Chopin works including the rarely performed pieces for Piano and Orchestra such as Rondo a la krakowiak, Fantasy on Polish Airs and Variations on Mozart's La ci darem la mano. Like most of Arrau's works, the Chopin is played very seriously, at slower tempo, but nevertheless is superb. The Preludes, Nocturnes are recommended the most, but this collection is a must have for any Arrau fan.
Among the many genres Beethoven used to build on his reputation upon his arrival in Vienna, the violin sonatas allowed him not only to demonstrate his own prowess on the keyboard, but also played to the increasing popularity of chamber works that might be attempted by sophisticated amateurs. Following Mozart's trend of liberating the violin from a mere secondary role, Beethoven continued to bring about the equality of both instruments in all of his duo sonatas. Performing these 10 sonatas is the splendid duo of violinist Renaud Capuçon and pianist Frank Braley. The recordings take place in la Chaux de Fonds concert hall in Switzerland, a venue that offers listeners an exceptionally wonderful, intimate sound quality even on a CD.