'… brimful with alert character and beauty whilst the two piano pieces are delightful in their raucous melodies … briliantly done by Tanyel' (Classical Net Review). It was brave and useful and laudable of Seta Tanyel and the now-defunct label Collins Classics to have embarked, in the 1990s, in a thorough exploration of the music of Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), and one must be grateful to Hyperion to have reissued almost all of it. The 4-volume traversal of his solo piano music doesn't embrace I think Scharwenka's complete piano output, but it is still very substantial. Add to that the three first piano concertos (apparently Collins didn't live long enough to record the Fourth, and the first is the one disc that Hyperion did not reissue, Piano Concerto 1, obviously because they already had another one in their catalog, Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1) and what I think was the complete chamber music. However, I didn't always feel that the results lived up to the project's promises.
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.