The chamber works on this recording encompass a variety of instrumental groupings and a range of moods from the humour and lightness of the Serenade to the serious magnificence of the Piano Quintet, a five-movement ‘memorial’ developing the tradition of so great a work as Shostakovich’s single-movement work for this combination. The Three Madrigals set a three-language cycle of miniature poems by Francisco Tanzer, poems which themselves encapsulates much that is distinctively Schnittke through their epigrammatic atmosphere of cryptic completeness.
An album of encores once played by someone else, even someone as famous as Mstislav Rostropovich, might seem an overspecialized product, but German cellist Alban Gerhardt had some success with a similar album devoted to Pablo Casals, and is now back for more. Gerhardt does a reasonable impression of Rostropovich's songful style, overlaid with a bit of mysterious and gloomy Russian philosophy. But the really innovative feature of the album is the program, which draws out the breadth of the great Russian's musical interests, even in the seemingly restricted feel of the encore.
Whilst Liszt’s piano music derived from music for plays is a much smaller body of work than his catalogue of operatic pieces, the approach in his methods of composition, elaboration and transcription remains broadly the same. As far as present Liszt scholarship permits one ever to be categorical, this recording contains all of Liszt’s works in this genre.
'… brimful with alert character and beauty whilst the two piano pieces are delightful in their raucous melodies … briliantly done by Tanyel' (Classical Net Review). It was brave and useful and laudable of Seta Tanyel and the now-defunct label Collins Classics to have embarked, in the 1990s, in a thorough exploration of the music of Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), and one must be grateful to Hyperion to have reissued almost all of it. The 4-volume traversal of his solo piano music doesn't embrace I think Scharwenka's complete piano output, but it is still very substantial. Add to that the three first piano concertos (apparently Collins didn't live long enough to record the Fourth, and the first is the one disc that Hyperion did not reissue, Piano Concerto 1, obviously because they already had another one in their catalog, Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1) and what I think was the complete chamber music. However, I didn't always feel that the results lived up to the project's promises.
'Tanyel's clear enthusiasm for this unhackneyed programme is utterly refreshing … The performance reminds us again just how well she understands the piano's Romantic repertoire' (Classic CD). 'the music here could hardly be more sympathetically presented than by Tanyel, whose performances are immaculate in their musicianship and virtuosity' (Gramophone). Seta Tanyel, the Armenian pianist, demonstrates a flair for the virtuosic style of German-Polish Scharwenka. She projects a well-rounded tone, a flexible sense of rhythm, a seamless technique, a fertile imagination and a daring panache. She seems to genuinly love these beautiful, light-hearted compositions. Scharwenka's music (who lived in the States for seven years) possesses energy, harmonic interest, strong rhythm, many beautiful melodies and much Polish national character. A highly enjoyable recording.
The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry Grenadier.
With his idiomatic and graceful style, pianist Philip Martin has established himself as the foremost exponent of Gottschalk. Much of his music is by no means easy to play; it requires an impeccable technique matched with Èlan and joie de vivre for its most effective execution. Although not essentially a great composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk had a unique spontaneity and individuality which Martins performances bring vividly to the fore. The composers music was hugely popular during his lifetime and his works display a real melodic charm and a great sense of fun. Each of the eight discs in Martins extensive Gottschalk series has received wide acclaim and left pianophiles eagerly awaiting the next issue.
Stephen Layton and Polyphony have a long and fruitful relationship with the music of Arvo Pärt. Their recording of Triodion and other choral works (CDA67375) won a Gramophone Award and became a cult classic. The extraordinary purity of Polyphony’s singing is the perfect vehicle for music of such clean, elemental simplicity, such cathartic calm. This third Pärt album from Stephen Layton and Polyphony reaches right back, intriguingly, to the composer’s youthful modernist phase and spans nearly five decades—from 1963 to 2012—in the process. As with the album Triodion, it reflects an increasingly broad spread of languages and sources in Pärt’s chosen texts. Latin, German and English are joined here by Church Slavonic and Spanish. A range of biblical texts are set alongside ancient prayers.