It's simple: in his various realizations of the piano music of Erik Satie, Aldo Ciccolini set a standard that has yet to be bettered. This compilation, drawn from recordings made between 1966 and 1971, is consequently the best of the best. Ciccolini always played Satie's music as though it had been written by Claude Debussy, not by some cheap charlatan or uneducated primitive (which, to an extent that is still debatable, Satie was). The result is that these seemingly simple piano pieces acquire a tonal allure that is as surprising as it is undeniable. They possess an understated sophistication that points directly toward Ravel and Poulenc, at the same time providing an opening to the minimalist aesthetic of the later 20th century. Ciccolini's playing is pliant and graceful, and under his fingers the music seems to breathe and come alive. What more could a composer or a listener want? –Ted Libbey
This disc is a perfect demonstration of what treasures might be waiting to be rediscovered among Charles Koechlin's huge and still drastically undervalued output. Both the Piano Quintet and the Third String Quartet were begun during the first world war, and the bulk of work on them was completed soon after hostilities ended; the Quartet was first performed in 1924, but Koechlin continued to revise the Quintet for another 10 years before it received its premiere.
For those new to Mendelssohn's music, this might look like a recording of some major works of the composer; be aware that they're virtually unknown music of Mendelssohn's early teens, first published in complete form only in 1999. For those already a fan of Mendelssohn, however, they're very intriguing works that show the developing talents of the young composer in a different light than do the set of twelve-string symphonies that are his most frequently performed works of the period.
This is the latest and, they tell us, the last of EMI’s Simon Rattle Edition, gathering together the conductor’s complete forays into certain composers and repertoire. As with any such project the sets hitherto released have contained both treasures and duds. Even though not everything here is perfect, this set sends the series out on a high with his complete Vienna recording of the Beethoven symphonies.