Edvard Grieg (Composer), Robert Schumann (Composer), Lovro von Matacic (Conductor), Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra (Orchestra), Sviatoslav Richter (Performer)
Deutsche Grammophon's five-CD trimline box set of the complete concerto recordings by Maria João Pires, packaged in separate sleeves with their original cover art, focuses quite appropriately on her area of specialization, the piano concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The first CD offers her eloquent performances of Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, in performances conducted by Emmanuel Krivine and André Previn, respectively, and Disc 5 closes with her refined reading of Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor. Between them are seven piano concertos by Mozart, with six of those performances conducted by Pires' longtime collaborator, Claudio Abbado, who also led the Schumann, while one of the Mozart performances was directed by Frans Brüggen.
The fifth CD boxed set, Vol. V, from the series The RIAS Amadeus Quartet Recordings is dedicated to nineteenth-century Romantic composers. This six-volume edition presents exclusively first releases on CD. The Amadeus Quartet included a wider repertoire in the broadcasting studio than in the recording studio. Works by Edvard Grieg and Robert Schumann interpreted by the Amadeus Quartet can be heard here for the first time on CD. And five works in this edition represent novel repertoire that the Amadeus Quartet never recorded on LP: Dvorák's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, Grieg's String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27, Mendelssohn's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 12, as well as Schumann's String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3 and Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44.
One of the most successful pianists of the generation that came of age at the end of the 20th century, Leif Ove Andsnes is particularly known for his attention to the music of his native Norway. "I always played a lot of Grieg from my childhood," he has said. "I always loved Grieg and I don't know if it's only because I'm Norwegian." He entered Bergen Conservatory in 1986 and studied with Jirí Hlinka, a well-known Czech piano professor. Andsnes made his U.S. debut in 1989, appearing in New York and Washington, then traveling to Canada.
The Matangi Quartet's 2005 release Scandinavia has one slight problem: while two of the composers, Edvard Grieg and David Monrad Johansen, were Norwegian, the third, Julius Röntgen, was Dutch! His presence is explained by his close friendship with Grieg, and the Matangi Quartet's decision to include his attractive two-movement Quartettino in A minor as filler is barely justifiable through that connection. Grieg's String Quartet in G minor, Op. 27, and Johansen's String Quartet, Op. 35, both deserve their place here, not only due to their creators' nationality but because they are solid examples of quartet writing outside the German tradition, and demonstrate the Norwegian proclivity to incorporate folk-inspired melodies in looser, more sectionalized developments than are found in Classical, motivically integrated models.
Pianist Piers Lane possesses a vast repertory of solo, chamber, and concertante works, which he has performed in more than 40 countries and on over 50 recordings. While he plays many standards by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov, he is unafraid to perform works by little-known composers. Indeed, he has made numerous recordings in the Romantic Concerto series for the Hyperion label, performing concertos by the likes of Stanford, Parry, Sinding, Alexander Dreyschock, Theodor Kullak, Eyvind Alnæs, and other neglected composers.