Firma Melodiya continues the series of compact discs dedicated to December Evenings Festival that takes place at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. This album, like the previous one, is dedicated to the 1985 festival World of Romanticism and includes recordings featuring Sviatoslav Richter. The atmosphere of December Evenings, an event initiated by the great pianist, differed from usual philharmonic concerts. The spirit of music as an inseparable part of "fusion of arts" the romanticists dreamt of was invisibly felt in each number; a sensitive listener can catch it in these, perhaps technically imperfect, concert recordings from thirty years ago. The works by Schubert, Schumann and Chopin were performed by Sviatoslav Richter in ensemble with his outstanding contemporaries, violinist and David Oistrakh's student Oleg Kogan who passed away prematurely, violist Yuri Bashmet, cellist Natalia Gutman and clarinettist Anatoly Kamyshov.
Other than Rubinstein, there is no greater Chopin interpreter than Horowitz, and in his single greatest work – the second sonata which is the highlight of this disc – I find Horowitz preferable because Rubinstein takes the great funeral march of the third movement too slowly, whereas Horowitz' direct approach conveys an even deeper sense of melancholy and tragedy. That said, this is a superb sampling of Horowitz' art, even better than the first volume of this series, with unworldly playing and fine sound quality for an analogue recording. The second sonata is second to none, and the shorter pieces are all very familiar and superbly played.
One of the greatest cellists of the twentieth century, a performer who combined technical brilliance with soulful expressiveness, Danil Shafran was born in 1923, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Shafran's first teacher was his father, who was the principal cellist of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.
The compositions on this CD encompass an entire century; all of them are French. Of course, they do not represent the entire range of a century of French cello music, but on the other hand they are all completely un-German! I thought that it would be a good idea to offer the listener of the late 1990s a sort of double upbeat for the masterly Chopin Sonata, in this way arriving at the 1840s by means of two successive steps. The Poulenc Sonata, although dating from 1948, is more a reflection of the Paris of the 1920s anti-aesthetic decadence and coolly presented cabaret-style sentiment. The work is remarkable for its refined surrealism, tinged with an intriguing hint of Catholic irony and seduction in the slow movement, and the moments in the last movement where the energy, for the first time, acquires a sarcastic tint, succeeded by an even more macabre quality which evokes Prokofiev…..
- Pieter Wispelwey
Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.
Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson, has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Ohlsson said of this set, “This monumental recording project first came about when the American record company Arabesque approached me with an irresistible offer to record the complete works of Chopin.