The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
Brahms (1833-97) devoted much of the 1880s to his three Piano Trios, having decided, as he told a friend, that there was “no further point in attempting an opera or a marriage”. They are among his less familiar chamber works. He originally wrote No 1 as a young man, overhauling it more than three decades later in 1889. All three works – the B major Op 8, C major Op 87 and C minor Op 101 – have a tender, shadowy intensity, without quite the same heart-on-sleeve fervour of the bigger chamber works. The string players here – brother and sister Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff – are regular quartet partners. Together with sensitive pianism from Lars Vogt, ensemble is alert, accurate, never forced: already a favourite CD.
Outstanding execution by Jeroen Van Veen with superb sound quality. Einaudi's work is difficult to categorize as he pulls classical, pop, new age and cinematic ideas into thoughtfully crafted modern pieces. Highly appealing because it's simply all very good.
A documentary on the great pianists of the twentieth century, introduced, written and narrated by David Dubal. Featuring the music of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Clementi, Debussy, Field, Grainger, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Padarewski, Rachmaninov, Schubert, Scriabin and Weber. Featuring musicians Claudio Arrau, Alexander Brailowsky, Van Cliburn, Alfred Cortot, Glenn Gould, Percy Grainger, Myra Hess, Josef Hoffmann, Vladimir Horowitz, Wanda Landowska, Ignacy Paderewski, Artur Rubinstein, and Rudolf Serkin. Bonus: Claudio Arrau Centenary reissued of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls is an album of piano rolls recorded (with one exception) by George Gershwin. It was released by Nonesuch Records in 1993. Gershwin recorded these piano rolls between 1916 and 1927. Several rolls use overdubbing, so that Gershwin is in effect playing a four-handed piece solo. The final selection, "An American In Paris", was recorded by Frank Milne in 1933. Milne worked as a roll-editor with Gershwin in the 1920s, and edited several of the rolls reproduced on this disc. So skilled was Milne as a roll editor, the liner notes suggest that he may not have actually "played" "An American In Paris" at all – in the same way that a musician can write sheet music…