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.
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.
Pieter Wispelwey and his gut-string cello partner for a second time with Paolo Giacometti in a programme of Chopin and Mendelssohn. But there is a another great musical figure on this disc – the cellist and composer Karl Davidoff, who studied with Moscheles and Mendelssohn’s violinist and composer friend Ferdinand David. Davidoff’s brilliant arrangements of the Chopin Waltzes Op. 64 form a sparkling interlude between Mendelssohn’s brilliant 2nd sonata, and Chopin’s late and great sonata for cello and piano.
Liszt wrote the "Consolations" on poems by Saint-Beuve in the year 1849. Compared with other piano pieces by Liszt, these are relatively easy to play, and this had made them accessible to a wider circle of pianists. The first performance of the "Concerto No. 1 in C major" took place on April 2nd 1800 in Vienna, with Beethoven himself as soloist. All Chopin's waltzes are typical of the new piano style he created which was taken up but not continued by Liszt. One can recognise in the "Symphonie Fantastique" a reflection of the heart-stirring experiences which at the time were affecting Berlioz very deeply: his glowing love for the Irish actress Harriet Smithson, who was worshipped by the whole of Paris in 1827 for her performances of Ophelia and Juliet.