In recognition of his 40th anniversary with the label, Sony Classical is proud to present Murray Perahia: The First 40 Years.
This limited- edition box set includes the artist’s complete recordings for Sony Classical on 68 CDs packaged in mini sleeves featuring the original album cover artwork.
Living legend of the piano Murray Perahia records two benchmark sonatas by Beethoven for the first time in his career. Long renowned for his performances of this composer, Perahia’s brand new recording pairs together two of the most radically ground-breaking of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, in a release that is sure to be a crown jewel of the Beethoven discography.
The concerto performances here have been available in a number of guises over the years, and have rarely been out of the catalogue. In their last incarnation they were coupled with the other items from Perahia’s later, digital solo disc, namely the Variations sérieuses, Op.54 and the famous Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14, as well as the Prelude and Fugue that’s here again. The powers-that-be at Sony must have decided that the Piano Sonata represents better value, and it is certainly a very substantial piece, making a well-filled re-issue.
One of the piano's most lyrical contemporary proponents, Murray Perahia was born in New York City. After first sitting down at the piano at the age of four, he entered Mannes College at 17, later graduating with degrees in conducting and composition. At the same time, Perahia spent his summers in Marlboro, Vermont, collaborating with musicians including Rudolf Serkin, Pablo Casals and the members of the Budapest Quartet; he also studied with Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Upon winning the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1972, Perahia gave his first concert at the Aldeburgh Festival a year later, where he met and worked with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, subsequently accompanying the latter in many lieder recitals. Perahia became co-artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1981, a position he held for eight years; his recordings include the complete concertos of Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.
Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia should have recorded all of Mozart's piano music for four hands, which includes several neglected masterpieces. This disc reflects their ideal partnership, two artists of great sensitivity collaborating in performances that feature constant interplay of parts, alertness to each other's work, and superb playing as individuals. The Concerto for Two Pianos ripples along without a care in the world, just as it should, and the English Chamber Orchestra doesn't seem to care that nobody is conducting it. The pieces without orchestra are a bit less significant (as is the Concerto for Three Pianos), but the playing is so beautiful you won't care.
This unusual grouping presumably represents the first instalment of Perahia's planned Urtext edition of the complete sonata series.Opening with the "Piano Sonata No 12 in A-flat major, Opus 26", one is immediately struck by Perahia's poised, stately progress through the opening movement. The more animated second movement – unusually, a scherzo, Beethoven effectively turning the sonata form on its head – sets up the dirge-like final movement, the Funeral March For a Dead Hero. The two Opus 14 Sonatas (No 9 in E major, and No 10 in G major) are earlier, shorter, and simpler, the former boasting a particularly pleasing melodic motif and repetitive form.