Renowned as one of the world's leading conductors, Esa-Pekka Salonen is also a gifted composer of highly expressive, colorful, and idiomatic music that has found a growing audience. His Violin Concerto (2009) won the 2012 Grawemeyer Prize and was composed for Leila Josefowicz, who performs as soloist with Salonen and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra on this Deutsche Grammophon release. The dazzling virtuosity of the violin part translates into equally flashy writing for the orchestra, and it's apparent that Salonen wrote with a conductor's ear for all the instruments' capabilities, not primarily for the violin above an indifferent accompaniment.
I heard many great performances of Mozart's Piano Sonatas including: Uchida, Arrau, Wurtz, Eschenbach, Horowitz, and Kempff to name few. But Gulda's tone and interpretation is exceptionally unique, he plays Mozart with full involvement, dedication, passion and inspiration I've never heard from any other player. Those tapes shed the light on a great artist at his most intimate moment of work, as those tapes were supposed to be personal and not intended for public, and hence the sound quality is not top notch but it's worth it considering the legendary performance.
A must-have for collectors of sublime historical recordings, this re-release of Fournier and Gulda's 1960 recording is equally appropriate for listeners seeking their first recording of Beethoven's works for cello and piano. Fournier's commitment to the exploration of the Beethoven sonatas and variations is clear; he made three complete recordings of the works over the course of his career – the first with Artur Schnabel in 1947, this one with Friedrich Gulda in 1960, and finally with pianist Wilhelm Kempff in 1965.
No performer championed the work of the late Russian composer Alfred Schnittke more than violinist Gidon Kremer. Here Kremer and colleagues offer a diverse sampling of Schnittke's work that will interest both those familiar and unfamiliar with this fascinating and influential composer. In the opening Concerto Grosso No. 1 for instance three centuries of Classical and Popular musical styles collide to humorous and at times chilling effect. Schnittke's exhilarating early piece Quasi una sonata as well is equally experimental requiring the violin soloist Kremer to extract sounds from his instrument Stradivari never intended. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is remarkably good capturing all the fun beautifully.
At the end of his life, Horowitz had chosen to record for Deutsche Grammophon. The Hamburg label reissues all of its recordings, 6 CDs, commemorating the centenary of the birth of the pianist.
The first new release for ten years from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado is their first ever album of concertos by Mozart. The legendary pianist and conductor add the sublime music of Mozart to their unrivaled, multi award-winning DG discography of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Liszt. Both concertos were recorded with Claudio Abbado s Orchestra Mozart, at concert performances at the 2013 Lucerne Festival that had critics searching for new superlatives. The album contrasts two very different works. Written in D minor, the key of the Queen Of the Night and the opening of Mozart s Requiem, the darkly dramatic No.20, K.466 has a stormy, operatic temperament that looks forward eighteen months to the premiere of Don Giovanni. With its majestic and radiant opening and a march famously reminiscent of the Marseillaise, No.25 in C major, K.503 is the culmination of the twelve transcendent concertos Mozart wrote in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. This release is Martha Argerich s first recording of solo concertos by Mozart on Deutsche Grammophon.
Abbado's splendid Petrushka was among the very first CDs to be reviewed in these pages. Robert Layton extended a warm welcome in March 1983. The fact that it appeared with no coupling didn't seem to bother him unduly at the time; I've no doubt that it would today. … The Petrushka is full of sensitive and dramatic detail: I don't know of a more intense account of the poignant scene in Petrushka's tiny backstage cell—all shadow and nervous apprehensiveness. Nor have we seen any more clearly into the elaborate texturing of the outer tableaux (this is the more lavishly scored original version); the tactility of the inner-part writing is constantly arresting. Vividly and imaginatively characterized, these performances are shining examples of Abbado's best work with the LSO. (from the review of the Mussorgsky/Stravinsky reissue DG 423901)
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is best known for the mystical minimalist style he developed in the late 1970s. While pivotal works from this period are included here, this disc's special value is the glimpse it gives of where Pärt was coming from before he simplified his style. His Symphony no. 3 from 1971 contains many premonitions of the austere, quasi-religious music to come: unaccompanied Gregorian chant-like melodies, for example, and the punctuation of bells. But the Symphony also has a wider range of expression, color and dramatic contrasts, sharing a seriousness of purpose with Pärt's later works, but in a manner more akin to Shostakovich.
Bartók's Piano Concertos are among the most difficult ever written; only a piano virtuoso of amazing dexterity, along with a virtuoso orchestra, can play them. Maurizio Pollini is that pianist, and the Chicago Symphony is that orchestra. The pianist's command of the music is consistently impressive, and Claudio Abbado leads the orchestra in extremely close sympathy with the pianist. The result is a set of performances that would be ideal except for two factors. One is that this LP reissue contains only two Concertos, when all three can fit on one CD. The other is that the recording balance so undervalues the orchestra that you can't hear everything. I'd love to hear these artists rerecord the same music with better engineering. –Leslie Gerber