What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.
Rachmaninov's opus 1, his first piano concerto, deserves to be heard more often. The opening bars have that heroic sound that raises the hair on the back of the neck. Indeed those first moments rank alongside those of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky piano concertos for their ability to thrill. Ashkenazy's breathtaking playing on a superb piano is matched by that of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Haitink's direction.
Noriko Ogawa and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra return to the works of Rachmaninov with a disc featuring his first and fourth piano concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Rachmaninov’s first concerto was written while he was a student at the Moscow Concervatory, but underwent considerable revisions up to 1917.
BIS present two works composed by Sergei Rachmaninov, featuring virtuoso pianist Yevgeny Sudbin alongside the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui. Rachmaninov composed Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini after a seven-year silence, and consists of 24 variations taken from Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin. The Rhapsody was soon followed by his Third Symphony. Its themes have a marked Russian character used with great subtlety.
With her winning combination of consummate technical brilliance, fine musicianship, and personal verve, the pianist Xiayin Wang captures the hearts of audiences wherever she appears. She is achiving high levels of recognision for her commanding performances as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. This is Wang’s second disc for Chandos Records. Her previous disc, of piano works by Earl Wild, was an ‘International Piano Choice’ in International Piano.
Julius Katchen took to the Romantic piano concerto repertoire as if all the war-horses…were written especially for him…The stereo Katchen/Boult Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody and Dohnanyi Variations generally improve upon the mono versions (reissued on Dutton), notwithstanding more incisive competition past and present. Katchen's awesome fingerwork cuts through the Rachmaninov Second Concerto's notey labyrinths like Drano tearing through a clogged sink. Solti's scorching, whiplash accompaniment has a galvanizing effect on the London Symphony musicians, who play their collective tuchus off.(Jed Distler - ClassicsToday)
In my own compositions, no conscious effort has been made to be original, or Romantic or Nationalistic, or anything else. I write down on paper the music I hear within me, as naturally as possible…