It's a recording that just a few years ago would have been mainstream: a "name" pianist (albeit one much less well known in the U.S. than elsehwere), who has been playing Mozart's piano concertos since childhood, joins forces with a name conductor with whom she has frequently collaborated, leading a modern-instrument orchestra of some 70 players, with the results released on a major international-conglomerate label. Now it's distinctly unusual. But lo, there's value in the old ways. Portuguese-Brazilian pianist Maria-João Pires is a lifelong Mozart specialist, but she still has new things to say in two of Mozart's most popular piano concertos. You can chalk it up to her Buddhist outlook if you like: her readings of the Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K. 595, and Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, might be described as detached without being lifeless. Her approach is most startling in the Piano Concerto No. 20, where her no-drama shaping of the material runs sharply counter to type. Sample the piano's entrance in the first movement, where it offers a twisting, tense elaboration of the main theme that is far removed from its source material. Generally pianists use this to raise the tension level, but Pires lets the unusually shaped, chromatic line speak for itself with fine effect.
Recorded live at a concert in the large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna in November 1991, this performance of Verdi’s dramatic Requiem is really commanding. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the chorus of the Vienna State Opera respond appropriately to Abbado’s exciting but not over-operatic handling of the work, and the recording is admirably clear. The soloists are a fine and well-matched quartet.
Many collectors would agree that Sviatoslav Richter was the greatest pianist of the 20th century. His enormous recorded legacy hides hundreds of treasures, many of which are included in this beautiful 51CD set. Released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth (20th March 2015), the edition encompasses his complete Decca, Philips and DG recordings, including his Sofia Recital as well as his collaborations with Rostropovich, Karajan and Benjamin Britten.
The first new release for ten years from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado is their first ever album of concertos by Mozart. The legendary pianist and conductor add the sublime music of Mozart to their unrivaled, multi award-winning DG discography of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Liszt. Both concertos were recorded with Claudio Abbado s Orchestra Mozart, at concert performances at the 2013 Lucerne Festival that had critics searching for new superlatives. The album contrasts two very different works. Written in D minor, the key of the Queen Of the Night and the opening of Mozart s Requiem, the darkly dramatic No.20, K.466 has a stormy, operatic temperament that looks forward eighteen months to the premiere of Don Giovanni. With its majestic and radiant opening and a march famously reminiscent of the Marseillaise, No.25 in C major, K.503 is the culmination of the twelve transcendent concertos Mozart wrote in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. This release is Martha Argerich s first recording of solo concertos by Mozart on Deutsche Grammophon.
This new recording of…the great D minor, K466, made last November with the LSO under Abbado, is immensely welcome. The old magic is still there: the ability to make every semiquaver in a run count: the way he can invest even quite 'innocent' music…with real meaning and character; the pathos and lyricism he brings to the slow movements; and the tension and drama he reveals in the outer movements of K466.
Abbado's splendid Petrushka was among the very first CDs to be reviewed in these pages. Robert Layton extended a warm welcome in March 1983. The fact that it appeared with no coupling didn't seem to bother him unduly at the time; I've no doubt that it would today. … The Petrushka is full of sensitive and dramatic detail: I don't know of a more intense account of the poignant scene in Petrushka's tiny backstage cell—all shadow and nervous apprehensiveness. Nor have we seen any more clearly into the elaborate texturing of the outer tableaux (this is the more lavishly scored original version); the tactility of the inner-part writing is constantly arresting. Vividly and imaginatively characterized, these performances are shining examples of Abbado's best work with the LSO. (from the review of the Mussorgsky/Stravinsky reissue DG 423901)
Bartók's Piano Concertos are among the most difficult ever written; only a piano virtuoso of amazing dexterity, along with a virtuoso orchestra, can play them. Maurizio Pollini is that pianist, and the Chicago Symphony is that orchestra. The pianist's command of the music is consistently impressive, and Claudio Abbado leads the orchestra in extremely close sympathy with the pianist. The result is a set of performances that would be ideal except for two factors. One is that this LP reissue contains only two Concertos, when all three can fit on one CD. The other is that the recording balance so undervalues the orchestra that you can't hear everything. I'd love to hear these artists rerecord the same music with better engineering. –Leslie Gerber
Fierrabras is a three-act German opera with spoken dialogue written by the composer Franz Schubert in 1823, to a libretto by Josef Kupelwieser, the general manager of the Theater am Kärntnertor (Vienna's Court Opera Theatre). Along with the earlier Alfonso und Estrella, composed in 1822, it marks Schubert's attempt to compose grand Romantic opera in German, departing from the Singspiel tradition.