If you don't already know Portuguese pianist Maria-João Pires, there's every reason to get this two-disc set. There's the exquisite beauty of her Mozart F major Sonata from 1990, the restless intimacy of her Schubert Drei Klavierstücke from 1997, the unbearable intensity of her Chopin Nocturnes from 1995, the reckless fervor of her Schumann Concerto with Claudio Abbado leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe from 1997, and the transcendent rapture of her Mozart A major Concerto with Frans Brüggen leading the Mozarteum-Orchester Salzburg from 1995.
Tancredi, which was based on Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata and was first heard in 1813, is most widely remembered for its overture, but this excellent Naxos set makes a strong case for the piece. It completely displaces the previous versions from Sony and RCA, and the eminent Rossini scholar and conductor, Alberto Zedda, proves a far more resilient, generally brisker and lighter Rossini interpreter than his predecessors. Sumi Jo is superb as the heroine, Amenaide, in dazzlingly clear coloratura, as well as imaginative pointing of phrase, rhythm and words. The mezzo, Ewa Podles, is less characterful, yet the voice is firm and rich as well as flexible; but it is the tenor, Standord Olsen, previously heard as Belmonte on John Eliot Gardiner’s recording of Entführung, who offers some of the freshest, most stylish and sweetly tuned singing from a Rossini tenor in recent years. The recording is a little lacking in body, but that partly reflects the use of a small orchestra, and the voices come over well. An Italian libretto is provided but no translation. Instead, a helpful synopsis is geared to the different tracks on the discs; had there been a libretto, this could well have received a Rosette.–Penguin Guide
This is an exceptional disc. Exceptional both for the music Johannes Brahms’ three violin sonatas contain some of his most lovely writing and the performance French violinist Augustin Dumay and Portuguese pianist Maria Pires project a strong interpretive vision. The interpretation is more lyrical and thoughtful than typical, with somewhat slow tempi generally. This is married to exquisite – and I mean, exquisite – technique from both Pires and Dumay as well as an outstanding sound engineering job from DG. The excellence of this CD is comprehensive.
Joëlle Krupa-Astruc, diplômée des Beaux-Arts, pratique l'aquarelle depuis de nombreuses années. Elle anime des stages à travers toute la France et ses oeuvres font régulièrement l'objet d'expositions.