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.
Uzbek-born pianist Anna Malikova is best known for her interpretations of music by Chopin. She has performed and recorded both concertos, the complete etudes, preludes, and impromptus, and numerous individual solo works. But Malikova is hardly a specialist: she plays a wide range of compositions, taking in large segments of the outputs of J.S. Bach, Soler, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. She has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, and has performed with many of the world's leading ensembles, including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the major orchestras of Warsaw, Moscow, Sydney, Oslo, Tashkent, and others.
Friedrich Wührer (born June 29, 1900, in Vienna; died December 27, 1975, in Mannheim) was an Austrian-German pianist and piano pedagogue. He was a close associate and advocate of composer Franz Schmidt, whose music he edited and, in the case of the works for left hand alone, revised for performance with two hands; he was also a champion of the Second Viennese School and other composers of the early 20th century. His recorded legacy, however, centers around German romantic literature, particularly the music of Franz Schubert.
It was an eminently sensible decision to couple Zimerman's previously separate Chopin concertos on a single CD. The Ax/Ormandy/RCA disc is the only rival as a coupling, so let me say at once that in different moods I would be equally happy with either. The main difference, I think, is the actual sound. From DG we get a closer, riper sonority, with Zimerman's piano much more forwardly placed. Both orchestra and piano are more distanced on the RCA recording, especially Ax's piano. This, together with Ax's lighter, more translucent semiquaver figuration (and sometimes his greater willingness to stand back and merely accompany—as in certain episodes in the F minor Concerto's finale) often conjures up visions of Chopin himself at the keyboard, and we know he was often criticized for insufficiently strong projection.
Volume 3 in the series with the complete orchestral works of Ludwig van Beethoven is ready from the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and its music director since 1997, Thomas Dausgaard. The piano concertos are true gems of the classical canon, as Beethoven was an expert both in the art of writing for the orchestra and himself a master pianist. Russian pianist Boris Beresovsky (b.1969) is such a wizard. At the age of 21 he won the Gold Medal at the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. It is a privilege to hear how the combination Berezovsky and Dausgaard/SwCO really hit it of in this music. They are enjoying themselves, surprising each other, challenging and courteous at the same time. The sounding result speaks for itself.
The Beethoven set includes the first two piano concertos (No. 1 in two versions, one with cadenzas supplied by Glenn Gould) together with Beethoven’s only completed opera in its final version: Fidelio. He always had a strong and fervent view of freedom and its resonance still rings true today nearly two hundred years since its first performance.
This is playing in the grand manner… Ozawa and the orchestra are behind the soloist in all this and the deciso element is fully realized. But don't let me imply a lack of finesse; not only do lyrical sections sing with subtlety, the big passages also are shapely… In the gorgeously grisly Totentanz, both music and playing should make your hair stand on end. - C.H.; Gramophone
This is a splendid recording, featuring three of Shostakovich's major works involving his own instrument, the piano. They display all the mercurial, contradictory aspects of his style, from dance-hall banality to sophisticated counterpoint and inspired melodic inventiveness, from mournful desolation and bleak hopelessness to the wild, obsessive, sardonic humor of desperation…The resulting performances are brilliant, moving, and exciting; Bronfman's virtuosity is stunning and the solo trumpeter in the first concerto is terrific. The string playing is wonderful–rich and colorful in sound, rhythmically incisive, deeply expressive; the first violinist's tone soars radiantly in the many stratospheric passages. –Edith Eisler; Editorial Reviews; Amazon.com