The piano remained the main instrument of Beethoven throughout his life, and this specially priced 4-CD box set represents his entire and sizeable output for piano and orchestra, starting with the early Piano Concerto in E flat, WoO 4 – a work of tremendous energy and great technical demands, which Beethoven wrote when he was just twelve years old – and ending with Piano Concerto No. 5, the only one that Beethoven never performed himself in concert, due to his developing deafness.
Youngest son of J.S. Bach, Johann Christian Bach rose to prominence in England during the early Classical period much the same as his father dominated the German Baroque. His writing was influenced by his father, of course, but also by the fashions being explored by Haydn. J.C. Bach also served as a bridge to Mozart, whose work and early writings were also influenced by the junior Bach. A total of 15, three-movement symphonies were published under Opp. 6, 9, and 18.
The violin and piano sonatas of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel draw on foreign idioms: gypsy music in Debussy's case and African-American blues in Ravel's. But they remain completely French works, spiced with something exotic, and British violinist Jennifer Pike forges interpretations that keep this in mind. Start with the "Blues" slow movement of the Ravel Violin Sonata in G major: Pike and her accompanist, Martin Roscoe, avoid exaggerating the bluesy qualities of the music and instead emphasize the odd, almost tense disconnection between violin and piano that, combined with the languid blues melodies, gives this piece its special piquancy.
Celebrated for his pivotal role in resurrecting the Bach suites for solo cello and championing their performance throughout his career, Pablo Casals' repertoire was much more far-reaching. Perhaps the best way to observe the breadth of his interests is to investigate the works he chose to perform as encores. Flashy, virtuosic show pieces certainly had their place in this repertoire, but Casals looked more favorable upon works that highlighted the more lyrical, soulful aspects of his instrument.
This two-disc package from Emmanuel Pahud explores the music performed at the court of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Frederick was an accomplished amateur flutist, and, thus, cultivated music for his instrument from the best composers of his day. This included Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Joachim Quantz. Frederick himself and his sister Anna Amalia also composed works featuring the flute.
This album of Mozart opera overtures will certainly delight the Mozart fan, as performed by La Cetra Barockorchester Basel under the baton of Andrea Marcon. This is indeed an orchestra that understands Mozart; the musicians utilize excellent technique and solid musicianship that respects Mozart's phrasing and dynamics. Apollo et Hyacinthus is sweet, light, and almost Baroque in character, as is La finta semplice, therefore these pieces are fitting for a Baroque orchestra.