Of all the composers Claudio Arrau recorded extensively, Liszt was perhaps the most central, the most essential and the most personal. Trained as a youth in prewar Berlin by a Liszt pupil, Arrau's commanding virtuosity and compelling authority is clearly a continuation of the grand Romantic manner in general and of Liszt in particular and on these six discs are dozens of performances that speak with the power of tradition infused with strength of true belief. From the glittering cascades of Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este to the harrowing sonorities of Gnomenreigen and from the radiant arpeggios of Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude to the hushed intimacy of Liebestraum, Arrau knows Liszt's music with the fervor of a prophet and the passion of a lover. While it's true Arrau was in his seventies and eighties when he made these recordings and that time had mellowed his virtuosity, it's also true that time had matured his interpretations. Some listeners may prefer their Liszt players more vigorous, but few could ask for a more sensuous Liszt player. Including two performances of Liszt's Sonata in B minor, one an almost youthfully ardent recording from 1970 and the other a slower but more penetrating recording from 1985, provides a wonderful way to compare Arrau's approach to the composer's masterpiece. Philips' stereo sound is so realistic one can sometimes hear the pianist shift on the bench.
May 17th sees Erik Satie's 150th anniversary and ECHO-Klassik Award winning pianist Olga Scheps presents the only new studio recording of his most beautiful piano solo works for the Satie celebrations 2016. Erik Satie is among the most popular composers worldwide, his most famous piano pieces such as „Gymnopédie No. 1” or “Je te veux” are instantly recognisable, having be used constantly in motion picture soundtracks and TV ads. As a special Bonus Olga Scheps recorded “Gentle Threat” by Chilly Gonzales, whom she frequently works together with on stage. Olga Scheps was born in Moscow in 1986, the daughter of two pianists, and discovered the instrument for herself at the age of four. She began studying the piano more intensively after her family moved to Germany in 1992. At an early age she had already developed her own unique style of keyboard playing, which combines intense emotiveness and powerful expressivity with extraordinary pianistic technique.
EMI Classics pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and Virgin Classics' string quartet, the Artemis, have joined their formidable musical forces to record two of the most beautiful piano quintets of the Romantic chamber music repertoire. Their collaboration makes for what will certainly be considered a landmark recording, bringing a new vigour to these well-known masterpieces. The programme couples 2 major piano quintets by Brahms and Schumann. Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor Op.34 is the composer's only piano quintet and is considered one of his finest compositions. The work began life as a string quintet, later evolving into a sonata for two pianos, before taking its final form in 1866. Of Schumann's Piano Quintet in E Op 44, Clara Schumann, who premiered it said: "A glorious piece, extremely brilliant and effective. Schumann's sole composition for piano quintet was composed in 1842, a year practically devoted to the composition of chamber works for piano and strings.
Leslie De'Ath has taken up the banner for the music of Cyril Scott, which many feel is long overdue for unfurling again, with a series on Dutton of his piano music. It is easy to hear in the pieces on this first volume why Scott was called "The English Debussy." The extremely colorful, translucent harmonies he uses make his music entrancing, sometimes mystical.
With his idiomatic and graceful style, pianist Philip Martin has established himself as the foremost exponent of Gottschalk. Much of his music is by no means easy to play; it requires an impeccable technique matched with Èlan and joie de vivre for its most effective execution. Although not essentially a great composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk had a unique spontaneity and individuality which Martins performances bring vividly to the fore. The composers music was hugely popular during his lifetime and his works display a real melodic charm and a great sense of fun. Each of the eight discs in Martins extensive Gottschalk series has received wide acclaim and left pianophiles eagerly awaiting the next issue.