Christoph Eschenbach is one of today’s foremost conductor-pianists. This fascinating retrospective focuses on his brilliant early career as a pianist, when his searching musical intelligence, formidable technique and enthusiastic engagement with the music of his, and our, time produced many recordings that have stood the test of time.
Born in 1941, and currently chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris, Christoph Eschenbach is one of today’s foremost conductor-pianists. This fascinating retrospective focuses on his brilliant early career as a pianist, when his searching musical intelligence, formidable technique and enthusiastic engagement with the music of his, and our, time produced many recordings that have stood the test of time.
Lorin Maazel's early recordings are the ones collected here and they are his finest work. Maazel was always a gifted conductor but as he aged he had a tendency to slow his tempi substantially, which I find conveys a somewhat diffuse and unfocused quality to his interpretations. His early work, however, is incisive, dramatic, beautifully articulated and well-textured. He extracts wonderful performances from his orchestras, with a special ability to make woodwinds and strings combine to magical effect.
This is the second of Brilliant's box sets devoted to Russian recordings from Evgeny Kissin. Labeled as early, these live concert performances from 1984 to 1990 carry us from the day after Kissin turned 13 (Mozart Cto. #12 K. 414) to age 18 (Mozart Cto. #20, K. 466), with most readings clustering in the range of 1985-89. Russians were well aware of the marvel in their midst; the pianist's American breakthrough occurred in 1990 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall's centennial season. No one since Richter, debuting almost thirty years before, had made such a heady entry, and Richter was past fifty when he came here (briefly, since he loathed American capitalism and the pace of life in our big cities).
When Brave Combo formed in 1979, we were going to be together just long enough to record our own polka record. It was to be four artists making a musical statement. I had become extremely fascinated with all different kinds of polka music (Mexican, European, Eastern European, American-Polish etc.) and as far as I was concerned, polka was alternative listening. I would dig through bargain bins for ethnic cut-outs and the music would usually be full of passion and integrity. But, it was a form almost totally ignored in the pop music world. So, I recruited a drummer, a horn player and a bassist, and in a friend's primitive home studio we recorded a seven-song, double EP called Polkamania.
From the notes: "Madame Darré's musical style changed over the years, as we can trace in this selection of her recordings made between the ages of 17 and 42.. In her last New York recitals in the early 1980's, she was no longer the fire-eating virtuoso, and molded cantilena with an exquisite soft legato, always charged with unexpected colors, turns of phrase, or important bass voice-leadings. Nevertheless, one of her trademarks, an infectious sense of rhythm, remained the same. … Her personal style was striking and colorful. She strode on stage like an athlete and the dancer she had been, resplendently gowned in extravagant hues that offset her hair. (At least once, she wore a slightly shocking formal miniskirt for an important New York recital!) Perhaps, if she considered it warm, she'd fling her jacket to the side of the stage before plunging without any fuss into the performance. Her audiences seemed to sense that she was an artist who loved to play" Notes by Gregor Benko