This major release launches the Mariinsky label’s projects to honour the 125th anniversary of Prokofiev’s birth. A long-time champion of the music of Prokofiev, Valery Gergiev conducts Symphonies Nos 4, 6 & 7, coupled with Piano Concertos Nos 4 and 5. The result is a 2-SACD set programmed to showcase some of Prokofiev’s finest works written before and after the Second World War.
Comprehensive overview of the piano repertoire in classic performances! Super-budget pricing: 50 CDs for less than the price of 6! Includes all the major concertos, sonatas and other solo works. An obvious and quite reasonable question about this set is just how did Decca come to produce this diverse set of recordings involving so many high quality pianists? The most likely way – to simply box 50 previously produced disks – does appear to have been the main method used, but perhaps not always.
As Austrian pianist Till Fellner has aged, his performance style has naturally matured. This CD of Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth piano concertos shows Fellner is still impetuous but more commanding, still virtuosic but less demonstrative, and still playful but less prankish and more thoughtful. His touch is generally light, as in the Fourth's airy closing Vivace, and often legato, as in the Fifth's lyrical central Adagio, but he displays plenty of power in the Fourth's dramatic Andante and the Fifth's mighty opening flourish.
"A 40 CD overview of some of the most sonically-spectacular classical and film soundtrack albums ever made. With 11 albums enjoying their first international CD release, Decca here celebrates a unique chapter in its own engineering history. Created in 1961, Phase 4 used the then-new multi-mixing techniques to deliver albums of maximum immediacy, clarity of instrumentation and breadth of dynamic range. 200 classical releases were eventually released on this label, with the first major classical releases 50 years ago in 1964. This set shows Phase 4 in its prime – big classical works requiring large scale orchestras, ripe for the display of spectacular sound engineering feats.
Among the virtuosity warhorses in the piano repertory, the five concertos by Camille Saint-Saens have established an appealing reputation. The audiences worldwide are enchanted to attend performances by great virtuosos in utterly melodious and harmonic works with dazzling keyboard pyrotechnics and musical ideas of the most refined quality. Yet, a very few of the professional pianists dare to approach this pianistic output by one of the most prolific and multifaceted artists of the European culture (composer, playwright, philosopher, astronomer, archaeologist, poet etc). To find the proper touch, to balance the wild virtuosity with the subtle musical concept, to get the deepest level of significance in these works – are all difficult tasks that require a high level of artistry (not only in pianistic terms).
Here is a superb recital following Piers Lane’s earlier Hyperion release of d’Albert piano concertos (4/96) and, once again, provoking astonishment that music of such quality could have lain neglected for so long. Variety is, indeed, the spice of d’Albert (1864-1932), the legendary, six times married pianist so greatly admired by Liszt. Tending to leave his wives as soon as they bore him children (one for the Freudians), his occasional sense of confusion – including an outburst to Teresa Carreno, his second conquest, “Come quickly, my child and your child are fighting with our child” – hardly detracted from a dazzling career and a series of compositions of a special richness.
Of how many recordings do you suppose you can say: This sounds just right; I can hardly imagine it being bettered? In a field as competitive as Beethoven's concertos, this might sound like reaching too far? Yet history, an unimpeachable witness, has already declared in favour of this album.