Recorded for the ASV label in 1990, this collection of Ravel’s piano music has never previously been released complete. Now reissued for the first time in more than a decade, this set presents not the kind of coolly objective view of the fastidious composer-craftsman that modern recordings have accustomed us to, but more of a poet in sound and in touch with his Basque origins.
This set of recordings made in 1963 by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Sviatoslav Richter of Beethoven's cello sonatas are the most virtuosic, the most lyrical, the most dramatic, the most expressive, the most intense, the most ecstatic, and, in a word, the greatest ever recorded. From the Empfindung style of the Op. 5 sonatas through the "Eroica" style of the Op. 69 sonata to the Elysium style of the Op. 102 sonatas, Beethoven's five cello sonatas are a précis of the highlights of his career as a composer.
David Starobin continues his award-winning New Music with Guitar series after a six year hiatus. Volume 8 includes two solo works and two chamber pieces in their premiere recordings. Starobin's own composition, Variations on a Theme by Carl Nielsen, takes Nielsen's “Song Behind the Plow”, first published in 1899, and subjects it to 12 variations. Paul Lansky's Partita for guitar and percussion is in four beautifully wrought and intricate movements. Six Pages by the Danish composer Poul Ruders, presents miniatures that range from light and comic to sustained and meditative. George Crumb's Ghosts of the Alhambra is a song cycle based on poems of Lorca, and features the distinguished American baritone, Patrick Mason.
Kevin Mallon leads a Toronto-based, 34-person group of period instrumentalists called the Aradia Ensemble on this new, bargain issue, and it's a terrific, ear-opening show. The music is, above all, joyful, with dance movements galore and plenty of giddy pomp. Mallon has rethought the tempos, almost all of which, he feels, should be quicker than we're accustomed to hearing. If you listen to the Air, the fourth movement to Suite No. 1, you'll be surprised at how good it sounds played without the usual serious "aura" that drags it down. Mallon writes in the accompanying notes that he looked at an 18th-century score for the piece and discovered it was marked "presto".
Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.