The steady increase in recordings of his music has now established Suk as one of the great musical poets of the early 20th century. Too much is made of his affinities with his teacher and father-in-law, Dvorák; for his own part, Dvorák never imposed his personality on his pupils and Suk's mature music owes him little more than a respect for craft and an extraordinarily well developed ear for orchestral colour. His affinities in the five-movement A Summer's Tale, completed in 1909 – a magnificent successor to his profound Asrael Symphony – reflect Debussy and parallel the music of his friend Sibelius and Holst, but underpinning the musical language is a profound originality energising both form and timbre.
Mackerras's recording joins a select band: Šejna's vintage performance on Supraphon and Pešek's inspired rendition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; his is an equal to them both and the Czech Philharmonic's playing is both aspiring and inspiring.
Esteemed pianist Samson Francois interprets pieces by Chopin. His performance is poised, powerful and exhilarating, driven by his deep appreciation for Chopin’s works. With astounding sound quality, Francois exudes pianism at its finest. A definitive collection for any audiophile.
After Bach, I think the compositional style of Johannes Brahms must be the most individually recognisable - at least in respect of his mature works; less so in the case of earlier compositions like the string sextets. However, these Piano Quartets are chock-full of typically Brahmsian melody and harmonic invention so that almost from the first bar, we readily are able to establish the composer's identity. Another reviewer has mentioned the density of Brahms's writing. Nowhere is this more evident than in these works which have absolutely no fat or padding on them; every note has a particular purpose within the structure of the whole. Nevertheless, in most of these quartets, Brahms does hint at the exposition of a subject which might become one of his grand melodic set-pieces but after only a passing nod at development, the idea fizzles out. But before we can sense any disappointment, we are caught up in his next scheme. This is so very characteristic of this great composer. The Beaux Arts Trio, ably augmented by Walter Trampler's viola, play to their customarily high standard with the recordings (from 1973) also being good.
Recorded in 1992 when the pianist was 77 years old, this disc of Chopin's complete etudes played by Earl Wild is truly awe-inspiring.
Firma Melodiya presents an album of mazurkas composed by Alexander Scriabin and performed by Samuil Feinberg. Samuil Feinberg’s artistic career was a remarkable phenomenon of 20th century domestic music life. A pianist, distinctive composer and educator who created his own performing school, he showed his worth in each of these roles, being notable for the integrity of his personality and creative aspirations. The musician’s performing interests were truly grandiose, but as a composer and performer, Feinberg was close to Scriabin and to the feel of his music. When the author of 'The Poem of Ecstasy' heard young Feinberg play, he fully appreciated his pianistic art. Samuil Feinberg’s repertoire included all piano sonatas and most of the small scale compositions by Scriabin. These recordings of nineteen mazurkas, Op.3 and Op.25, from Scriabin’s early period were made in the 1950s.
Pieter Wispelwey and his gut-string cello partner for a second time with Paolo Giacometti in a programme of Chopin and Mendelssohn. But there is a another great musical figure on this disc – the cellist and composer Karl Davidoff, who studied with Moscheles and Mendelssohn’s violinist and composer friend Ferdinand David. Davidoff’s brilliant arrangements of the Chopin Waltzes Op. 64 form a sparkling interlude between Mendelssohn’s brilliant 2nd sonata, and Chopin’s late and great sonata for cello and piano.