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.
Moscow-born pianist Boris Giltburg has made quite a name for himself in the big Russian piano classics. His Rachmaninoff Second was very fine and the vaunted “Rach 3” is no less impressive. He has the temperament and the technique for this mighty work and squares up to its scale and ambition with great panache. Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto draws some high-powered yet elegant playing from the Scottish orchestra. The Corelli Variations of 1931, the composer’s last solo work, is an altogether cooler creation—less heart-on-sleeve but equally entrancing. Giltburg scales back and plays it with terrific confidence.
Live recordings from Austrian Radio broadcasts (ORF) released for the very first time by one of the greatest musicians of all time.
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.
British pianist Jonathan Plowright makes his début recording on BIS. Hailed by Gramophone as ‘one of the finest living pianists’, Plowright is recognised worldwide as a truly exceptional artist. Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 3 is heroic in scale, unconventional in layout and exudes high quality making it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert.
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.
These performances, dating from the 80s when the young Russian pianist was at his peak (he soon withdrew himself from the music scene), are among the best for Rachmaninoff's music.