Firma Melodiya presents recordings of Brahms and Prokofiev concertos performed by Natalia Gutman and Oleg Kagan. One of the worlds best cellists, a Peoples Artist of the USSR, and an owner of the State Prize of Russia, Natalia Gutman received four competition prizes when she was a student.
Our series of historic radio recordings from Russian archives has proved very popular all over the world. Many people have chosen performance over recording quality. – which, when necessary, we have improved optimally. – Thus allowing themselves the infinite joy of listening to legendary performers. The musicians in this large set are all (living) legends indeed: pianists, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Lazar Berman, Evgeny Kissin; violinists David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Viktor Tretiakov and Gidon Kremer; cellists Rostropovich and Daniel Shafran. Solo works, chamber music and works with orchestra are included.
Nikolay Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (1881-1950), the Musical Conscience of Moscow, has been deemed by many as the greatest of Soviet symphonists. And listening to his symphonies, it is not hard to see why. Hardly free from the problems with some of the turgidness, redundancy, and plainness in the writing, his music is real stuff, hardly facile, and honest in its communicative utterance. He was indeed a Twentieth Century Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, not as an epigone, but as a man not afraid to express himself and at the same time allow his music to remain accessible.
Claudio Abbado has a highly-developed feeling for Prokofiev's sound world. (…) it is Abbado that casts the strongest spell. Throughout both concertos textures are more delicately coloured, dynamic nuances scrupulously observed and there are feather-light string Sonorities. (…) the engineers produce a beautifully refined and homogeneous balance and (save for the fact that the soloist is a shade larger than life, albeit not so much as Perlman for HMV), it is very impressive indeed. There is plenty of space round the instruments and the sound is truthful.
He is without doubt one of the greatest conductors of our time, and Volume 1 of his recordings from Brilliant Classics allows the listener to experience the extraordinary genius of Rozhdestvensky over a characteristically wide and varied range of repertoire.
This is a live recording, made at a pair of concerts in May, and ‘live’ is undoubtedly the word for it. All the performances have an improvisatory quality, interpretative decisions seemingly made before your very ears. At the beginning of the Prokofiev it is as though Mutter and Orkis, realising that the audience in the Beethovensaal are already uncommonly silent and attentive, had decided after a quick glance at each other to begin the Sonata almost confidingly, with quiet tenderness and muted colour.
Winning first prize at the 1989 Van Cliburn Competition, Alexei Sultanov enjoyed a meteoric rise of epic proportions, with a major recording contract, Carnegie Hall recital, American and European tours, and TV appearances with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and other notables. But Sultanov's star soon fell to Earth as critics would often characterize his bold style in unflattering terms, finding his interpretive manner feral and superficial, and his herculean fortes ostentatious: he broke a string during a performance of the Liszt First Mephisto Waltz at the Cliburn Competition. But the youthful pianist's health soon proved a more formidable opponent than any critic's pen, as a series of strokes sabotaged his career, eventually leaving him paralyzed on his left side after 2001. Though he died at 35, Sultanov left a memorable though controversial legacy. His Prokofiev, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and Scriabin could rivet the listener, while his Beethoven and Mozart might have been less consistently engaging. His recordings, mostly available from Warner Classics, document the enormous talent of this imaginative performer, a pianist unafraid to take interpretive chances.