Chandos continues to champion the works of York Bowen, this time turning to the chamber works of this great composer who, after years of neglect, is finding ever growing audiences. The works are performed by the Gould Piano Trio, one of the finest ensembles of their kind, which is joined by the clarinettist Robert Plane, violinist Mia Cooper, and violist David Adams. The Piano Trio in E minor is arguably Bowen’s masterpiece of chamber music and one of the finest such works by a British composer. It features a natural fluency and melodic expression that are hallmarks of Bowen’s output. The Phantasy Quintet is a fascinating work for the virtually unique combination of bass clarinet and string quartet. Flowing seamlessly, the music masterfully integrates the bass clarinet into the texture. Also included is the first movement from the unfinished early Piano Trio in D minor, edited for this premiere recording by the Gould Piano Trio. Its structure is simpler and less organic than the later works but it is an intriguing piece and clearly the work of a gifted creative figure. The Rhapsody Trio in A minor and Clarinet Sonata in F minor complete the disc.
When András Schiff completed the recording of all of Schubert's piano sonatas in the 1990s, Decca released a box set containing all of the individual discs from the series. For this 2011 reissue, Decca goes one step further and includes Schiff's recordings of the Impromptus, the Moments musicaux, and several other shorter works. Schubert's music, along with that of Bach and Mozart, is one of the cornerstones upon which Schiff built his reputation as a thoughtful and intelligent performer. Anyone looking for a complete set of the Schubert sonatas could do much worse than to choose this one by one of the foremost Schubert interpreters of his generation.
It’s fair enough that those with a vested interest in Sibelius’s piano music want to give it more visibility than it has had before. This collection of all the published piano works with opus numbers comes a with a comprehensive booklet note (by Antti Häyrynen); sensibly, this doesn’t make excessive claims regarding what is, with exceptions, a mediocre area of Sibelius’s output.
One of the oldest chess openings, the Italian game (also known as the Giuoco Piano) still has relevance today. The Italian has seen a resurgence in the last couple of years due to the influence of defences to the Spanish (Ruy Lopez) such as the Berlin and the Marshall and GM Saric believes every serious 1.e4 player should have both 3.Bb5 and 3.Bc4 in their repertoire. With many 1…e5 players expecting 3.Bb5, the Italian can be a great surprise weapon, especially when you are well prepared.
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.
Bruce Brubaker artistic skill and understanding of this music is beyond reproach and will thrill any fan of the collected composers work on this CD. The sound quality is outstanding as well. Bruce Brubaker has recorded two CDs on the Arabesque label in a continuing series exploring modern American piano music. The most recent, Inner Cities, was released in September 2003, and includes Brubaker's transcription of Pat Nixon's aria from Adams's opera, Nixon in China. The previous CD, Glass Cage , with pieces by Glass and Cage, was named one of the ten best releases of 2000 by The New Yorker magazine.