When I first put this disc in the player, I wondered if I would really enjoy it. I had just listened to a performance of the Tchaikovsky played by Sviatoslav Richter accompanied by the Leningrad Philharmonic under Evgeny Mravinsky. Obviously, the first characteristic was a vast improvement in the recording quality over the mono Russian recording (Leningrad, 1957). As the new disc got underway I was very pleasantly surprised, as André Watts, although not Richter, gave a very proficient and exciting reading.
Involving, as it does, three master musicians and a fine chamber orchestra this was never likely to be be other than rewarding. It may not correspond with the ways of playing Mozart at the beginning of the twenty-first century which are fashionable at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but it has virtues – such as high intelligence, sympathy, certainty of purpose, grace, alertness of interplay – which transcend questions of performance practice. Looking at the names of the pianists above, we might be surprised by the presence of Sir Georg Solti, so used are we to thinking of him as a conductor. But the young Solti appeared in public as a pianist from the age of twelve and went on to study piano in Budapest, with Dohnányi and Bartok.
A classic collection of 11 CDs that compiles every recording that the late Arthur Rubinstein released on the RCA label from 1946-1967! Many aficionados consider these definitive performances of Chopin repertoire, produced by the legendary Grammy award winner Max Wilcox and presented in both monaural and stereo recordings.
The first complete recording of the Breitkopf Urtext Edition of the organ concertos of George Frideric Handel. Handel's organ concertos enjoy a wide popularity, they are brilliant concert pieces, in which the organ plays a joyous, "worldly" part. Christian Schmitt is one of the most promising young organists in Germany, having won several international competitions. A welcome debut on Brilliant Classics of the famous Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, who play with great clarity and lively articulation, under the baton of Nicol Matt.
The Camerata of the 18th Century and its director Konrad Hünteler are committed to the recovery of original sound from the forgotten and not-soforgotten musical past. This long-awaited re-release features a masterpiece and one certainly well worth all the painstaking research that went into it: Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
Sol Gabetta’s first recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto, with the Danish National Symphony, was much admired when it appeared six years ago. This one, taken from a concert in the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus in 2014, is a far glossier affair orchestrally. Simon Rattle’s tendency to overmould the phrasing is sometimes too obvious, but Gabetta’s playing is intense and searching, less introspective than some performances in the Adagio, perhaps, but epic in scale in the outer movements, and always keenly responsive. Those who possess her earlier disc might not think they need to invest in this one, but would then miss Gabetta’s vivid, pulsating account of the Martinů concerto, which went through a quarter of a century of revisions before the definitive 1955 version she plays here, with Krysztof Urbański conducting. She finds real depth and intensity in it, both in the slow movement and in the introspective episode that interrupts the finale’s headlong rush.
Among the young British instrumentalists vying to pick up the mantles of the great soloists of a generation ago, flutist Katherine Bryan seems among the most promising, and she takes a major step forward with this, her second release. Her startlingly clear, bright articulation in the upper register is pleasing on its own, yet the real attraction here is that she approaches a repertory intelligently and brings fresh perspectives to it. The Flute Concerto (1993) of Christopher Rouse only seems to be the odd item in the set; Rouse's instrumental writing, with its intricate grasp of texture and register, is truly a descendant of the French (and French-Swiss) music on the rest of the album, and it was an inspired choice in terms of showcasing Bryan's technique as well. The three central movements have a memorial tone, with flute solos woven into Rouse's characteristically spacious chords, and Bryan has the stamina to stick with the long line here. Ibert's delightful Concerto for flute and orchestra (1934) receives an absolutely crackling performance from Bryan.
There are many other highly recommendable recordings by Collegium Musicum 90 under Simon Standage on the Chandos early music label, Chaconne. If you’ve heard a reasonable cross-section of the music of Vivaldi and would like to experiment with some of his near-contemporaries, their recording of Alessandro Marcello’s six Violin Concertos, Op.6, known as ‘La Cetra’, together with an extra Concerto in B-flat, would be a good place to start.
A contemporary of Tomaso Albinoni, Alessandro Marcello was the son of a senator in Venice. As such, he enjoyed a comfortable life that gave him the scope to pursue his interest in music. He held concerts in his hometown and also composed and published several sets of concertos, including six concertos under the title of La Cetra (The Lyre), as well as cantatas, arias, canzonets, and violin sonatas.