In the summer of 1781 Mozart described his new home Vienna as "the land of the piano". He soon set about presenting his own subscription concerts, offering the three newly-composed concertos on this disc for publication "either with a large orchestra or a quattro". The latter, more intimate versions of these charming works are performed here by Robert Blocker, Dean of Music and Professor of Piano at Yale University, and the youthful Biava Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and top prizes at the Premio Borciani and London International Competitions.
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.
Like the legendary pianists of the 19th and early 20th century, such as Sigismund Thalberg, Franz Liszt, Leopold Godowsky, and Ignace Jan Paderewski, it often sounds as if Marc-André Hamelin has more than 10 fingers. His ability to play fiendishly difficult music, make it sound as if it's a stroll in the park, yet imbue it with musical sensitivity makes him worthy of the description "super-virtuoso" by The New York Times' Harold Schoenberg. Hamelin studied at the Vincent d'Indy School of Music in Montréal with Yvonne Hubert, a pupil of Cortot, then received bachelor's and master's degrees at Temple University, working under Russell Sherman and Harvey Weeden.
Winner of the gold medal in the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Vadym Kholodenko has impressed audiences with his dynamic playing and compelling interpretations of Romantic and modern repertoire. This Harmonia Mundi hybrid SACD presents Kholodenko with Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in a pair of piano concertos by Sergey Prokofiev that fully show the pianist's artistry and virtuosity.
This particular recording has been a favourite of mine since its initial release nearly 30 years ago. Stephen Kovacevich (or Bishop-Kovacevich. if you prefer) appeals as 1 of those pianists whose playing is rather forthright & precise, giving us here a rather lyrical presentation of the concerti full of grace & good demeanor. A little on the light side compared to those who pound out their Beethovens some would think.