The Braunschweig Upright Piano has a distinctive sound character that's far more intimate than a grand piano, making it desirable for certain situations where you don't want the polished and precise sound of a nine-foot grand in a concert hall. An original Schimmel Braunschweig upright piano was painstakingly recorded to create this beautiful instrument. As with all Imperfect Samples instruments, the emphasis has been placed on achieving a hyper-real and convincing sampled instrument, with performance sounds.
The Braunschweig Upright Piano has a distinctive sound character that’s far more intimate than a grand piano, making it desirable for certain situations where you don’t want the polished and precise sound of a nine-foot grand in a concert hall. An original Schimmel Braunschweig upright piano was painstakingly recorded to create this beautiful instrument. As with all Imperfect Samples instruments, the emphasis has been placed on achieving a hyper-real and convincing sampled instrument, with performance sounds.
Finnish pianist Janne Mertanen, known mostly for Chopin recordings, here takes on probably the most-often-recorded pairing in the Romantic piano literature, the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, of Schumann, and the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, of Grieg. Does Mertanen have anything new to say here? Perhaps not totally, but his Grieg, from the very first grand gesture, is in the top rank of recordings of this well-loved work. The first movement is a dramatic tour de force, with the momentum carrying the music through what is often a rather leisurely episodic structure, and the central-movement nocturne is extremely delicately done.
Clifford Curzon was among the finest English pianists of the twentieth century, known for his clear, ego-less performances of the German Classical and Romantic masterpieces. A quiet intellectual who nevertheless possessed a formidable technique, Curzon played everything from Mozart to Liszt with equal authority. His fans often cite this ability to emphasize the personality of each composer, rather than his own, as his most distinctive quality. Curzon recorded for the Decca label for over 30 years, leaving behind a modestly sized, but musically impressive catalog. His recordings of Mozart and Schubert are considered his best.
There's perhaps a touch of irony in the title of Dutch pianist and composer Jeroen van Veen's box set Minimal Piano Collection because at nine discs, it's a pretty massive collection. The program booklet notes that he recorded the entire set, which includes more than ten hours of music, in only six days, an astounding feat. In the program notes, van Veen offers a remarkably clear and concise history of minimalism in music. He defines it broadly enough (following the lead of composer and critic Tom Johnson) to include works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Satie. Philip Glass is the composer most widely represented, with three of the set's nine CDs devoted to his music originally for piano, as well as transcriptions from his film scores and operas. Two discs are given to van Veen's mammoth 24 Préludes, organized according to the framework of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Other composers range from the very well known, such as Michael Nyman, John Adams, Terry Riley, Arvo Pärt, and John Cage, to the familiar-to-specialists, like Tom Johnson, Wim Mertens, and Jacob ter Veldhuis, to those little-known to American audiences, like Klaas de Vries, Simeon ten Holt, John Borstlap, Yann Tiersen, and Carlos Micháns.
John Cage: Early Piano Music comes from Herbert Henck, an experienced hand with the work of Cage, having previously recorded Music for Piano, Music of Changes, and Sonatas and Interludes in addition to a mighty swath of first-tier twentieth-century literature for piano for various labels, most notably Wergo and ECM New Series. These are early works for standard, not prepared, piano, and some of these pieces will be as familiar to dyed-in-the-wool Cageans as "Happy Birthday." This puts the pressure on Henck to excel, and he does so spectacularly well here. The disc includes the two sets entitled Two Pieces for Piano, the piano version of The Seasons, Metamorphosis, In a Landscape, Ophelia, and the fragmentary Quest. The pieces date from 1935 to 1948, the same range covered by pianist Jeanne Kirstein in her pioneering 1967 survey of Cage's piano music for CBS Masterworks.
Despite a career spanning more than 50 years and a gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition (among others), pianist John Lill may be an artist sadly missing from many CD collections. Heralded as an intellectual musician, his approach to the instrument is decidedly academic and straightforward. This is not to say that his music-making is not impassioned or thoughtful anymore than the same could be said of Starker or Gingold simply because they are master technicians at their instruments.