Mutter's Beethoven Concerto was recorded live at the final subscription concerts of Karl Masur's long tenure as the New York Philharmonic's music director, and the beautifully played orchestral part is a tribute to his leadership. Mutter plays with a silken tone and astonishing technical command of her instrument–absolute ease in the stratospheric tessitura of the solo part, and an amazing array of microdynamic adjustments that display the infinite variety of pianissimos at her command.
Steinway & Sons, for over 150 years the maker of the world's finest pianos and the symbol of quality and excellence to generations, joins forces with Universal Classics, home to history's greatest pianists on the Deutsche Grammophon, Decca and Philips labels, to present the Steinway Legends Grand Edition, an impressive box that holds all 10 Steinway Legends packages in the series in a unique "Steinway Series D" Piano Box.
Kurt Masur is a retired German conductor, particularly noted for his interpretation of German Romantic music. (…) He and his third wife, Tomoko Sakurai, have a son, Ken-David, a classical singer and conductor. Masur conducted the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra for three years ending in 1958 and again from 1967 to 1972. He also worked with the Komische Oper of East Berlin. In 1970, he became Kapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, serving in that post until 1996…
There are all sorts of correspondences, musical and otherwise, that confer unity on this eclectic mix of works. John Corigliano's Fantasia, given a smashing performance by Grimaud that milks every ounce of poetry and mystery from its quieter moments, is based on the Allegretto of Beethoven's Seventh (just as Pärt's Credo quotes Bach). Both Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and Pärt's Credo are written for the unusual combination of piano, chorus, and orchestra, and both in their different ways seek to bring order from chaos (or in musical terms contrast "improvisation" with "composed" music). The odd man out here (conceptually at least) is Beethoven's Tempest Sonata, in which Grimaud finds similar qualities via its supposed inspiration in Shakespeare's eponymous play. In any case, it takes no special pleading to include two works by the same composer, and its inclusion makes for a thoughtful and attractive concept album that not incidentally keeps the focus squarely on Grimaud.
Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev has an astoundingly clean and virtuosic technique. He has the ability to bring out inner voices that in some other recordings are completely lost. These skills are sometimes enough to make his interpretations of these three early and middle period Beethoven sonatas completely satisfying. The third movement of the "Moonlight" Sonata, for example, is absolutely electrifying in its virtuosity. The first movement of the"Waldstein" and the final movement of "Appassionata" are brisk, energetic, and always completely under control. Movements such as these, where the performer's technique truly comes to the forefront, are absolutely satisfying here.