piano music


TranscendentalPianist sensation and composer Daniil Trifonov was born in Russia in 1991. He began learning piano aged five, gave his first concert performance at eight and studied at Moscow’s famous Gnessin School of Music. His many prizes have included the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. He was awarded the First Prize Gold Medal, and Grand Prix at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, as well as winning the Audience Award and the Award for the Best Performance of a Chamber Concerto. The Times quote has called him ‘the finest young pianist of our age’. In 2013 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in a concert recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. After his acclaimed ‘Rachmaninov Variations’ recording last year he has dedicated his new solo release, Transcendental, to the greatest pianist of his own century: Franz Liszt. The two CDs feature Liszt’s Complete Concert Etudes. This cycle of 12 pieces - full title Etudes d’exécution transcendante - are among the most fiendishly virtuosic of all piano compositions. Each piece has a title, either descriptive (Vision, Eroica, Chasse-neige) or relating to tempo or form. They are rarely recorded or performed - this is the first time Liszt’s Etudes have been recorded as a whole for DG - and Daniil Trifonov is one of the few pianists to have recorded them all in one go, in an unbelievable five days. Beyond his phenomenal technique, Daniil Trifonov is a distinctly Russian artist: an intense, soulful musician in the great Russian tradition whose presentation and repertoire set him apart from all other young piano stars of today. ‘What he does with his hands is technically incredible. It’s also his touch – he has tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that.’ - Martha Argerich.


Enescu - Complete Works for PianoBorn in the Romanian village of Liveni (later renamed ‘George Enescu’ in his honour), George Enescu was a gifted composer, virtuoso violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher. A child prodigy, he began experimenting with composing at an early age, including several short pieces for violin and piano survive. In 1888, at the age of seven, he became the youngest student ever admitted to the Vienna Conservatory, where he was the second person ever admitted to the university by a dispensation of age (the first was Fritz Kreisler). In 1891, the ten-year-old Enescu gave a private concert at the Court of Vienna, in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph. He graduated before his 13th birthday, earning the silver medal, and continued his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris, studying composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. He went on to become one of the leading musical figures of the twentieth century, a contemporary of Bartók and Stravinsky, yet sixty years after his death in 1955, his work remains largely unknown and unrecognised outside his native Romania. This 3-CD box set features all of Enescu’s expressive and elaborate compositions for pianoEnescu - Symphony No 4, including many world premiere recordings. Gifted young Rumanian pianist Raluca Stirbat shows brilliant technique and a selection of rich acoustic colours to celebrate a genuine musical renaissance man who Casals said was ‘the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart’. CPO has released ENESCU - SYMPHONY NO. 4 (CPO 777966-2) performed by the excellent NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover conducted by Peter Ruzicka. The stylish Fourth Symphony, completed in 1996 by fellow Rumanian composer Pascal Bentoiu, was written in 1934 and The CD also includes Enescu’s atmospheric Nuages d’Automne sur les Forêts (Autumn Clouds over the Woods), a fragment that forms part one of his projected symphonic suite Voix de la Nature (Voice of Nature), as well as his brilliant Chamber Symphony for twelve instruments: flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, bass and piano. This is intense, passionate music by a composer who has been unjustly neglected.


RUSSIAN PIANO MUSIC, vol. 11ROMAN STATKOWSKIUntil recently, the music of Galina Ustvolskaya had been neglected in Russia and little heard in the West. Born in 1919, this reclusive St Petersburg composer’s personal vision and stubborn self-will excluded her from mainstream musical life in the USSR. Unrelelenting rhythms in many works brought her the nickname ‘The Lady with the Hammer’. Quite apart from its individual integrity, her work is driven by a spiritual ideal which would have placed her in diametrical opposition to the Communist state. She was a pupil of Shostakovich but developed her own very particular style, of which she said, ‘There is no link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or dead.’ Shostakovich supported her in the Union of Soviet Composers and sometimes sent her his own as yet unfinished works, attaching great value to her opinions. He wrote to her, ‘It is not you who are influenced by me; rather, it is I who am influenced by you.’ Ustvolskaya was an enigma: a quiet, reserved and introspective individual who wrote powerful, massively constructed (yet short in length) music which astounded her audiences. Since her death in 2006 her music has become highly regarded and she is almost a cult figure. Russian pianist Natalia Andreeva has studied Ustvolskaya’s music in great depth and while fully committed to the great mechanistic climaxes also brings out in these recordings the lyrical and melodic qualities which are always present, expecially in the earlier works such as the picturesque Preludes. This double CD is an invaluable introduction to a composer who will be seen in hindsight as a pivotal figure in the development of twentieth century Soviet/Russian music. ROMAN STATKOWSKI - PIANO MUSIC (DIVINE ART DDA 25129) features works by one of the most brilliant successors to the Romantic genres popularised by Chopin. Hardly known outside Poland, Roman Statkowski’s music is full of sparkling energy, rhythmic vitality and a mass of wonderful melodies. For anyone who loves the classical romanticism of the mid to late 19th century, Statkowski is a composer to be checked out and investigated in depth. The virtuoso Polish pianist Barbara Karaskiewicz has championed his music for some time, and has a close affinity with his work. She brings a formidable technique to the glittering fast passages and is the ideal interpreter.


David RubinsteinThe American pianist David Rubinstein has been praised for a combination of refined musical taste, formidable technique and probing interpretations of the works he performs. Born in New York City in 1949, he was a student of George Kochevitsky. Later piano studies included William Masselos, Ozan Marsh and Claudio Arrau, and he studied the piano works of Aaron Copland with the composer. David Rubinstein’s many critically acclaimed recordings include the 1971 world premiere recording of several Sibelius piano works on the Musical Heritage Society label, re-issued on the Musicus Recordings label. His wide repertoire ranges from Bach and Scarlatti to the present and he has performed throughout the US and Europe, including radio broadcasts, concerts and orchestral appearances. This latest CD in his Recital series features several of his own compositions as well a sparkling early Haydn Piano Sonata and Debussy’s irresistible Suite bergamasque (including the popular Clair de lune). Rubinstein’s nine original piano works here are given the titles ‘Four obsessions for piano (1991-2014)’ and ‘Ideas and Images for piano (2012-14)’. As he explains in his own sleeve notes, the best guide to appreciation of these pieces may be the titles themselves, whether they be descriptive of some image or an idea, and the ‘meaning’ is open to interpretation by the listener. These are assured, evocative and often witty miniatures by a composer of thoughtful imagination. Like the Haydn and Debussy masterpieces they are impeccably recorded and confirm David Rubinstein as a musician at the height of his powers, playing with precision, delicacy and warmth.


ScriabinThe innovative and most controversial Russian composer and pianist Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was influenced by Chopin and his early compositions were characterised by tonal language, including music in many genres that Chopin himself employed, such as the étude, the prelude, the nocturne, and the mazurka. Later, and independently of Arnold Schoenberg, he developed an atonal and more dissonant musical system that resonated with his personal brand of mysticism. Scriabin was also influenced by synesthesia, associating colours with various unusual harmonic tones, as well as by theosophy and Symbolism. His music was initially scorned but Leo Tolstoy described it as ‘a sincere expression of genius’ and Scriabin influenced composers such as Stravinsky and Prokofiev. His poem Vers La Flamme was written for solo piano a year before the composer’s death. He believed it was the ultimate destiny of the universe to be consumed in a cosmic incendiary apocalypse and this piece is the ecstatic musical expression of that philosophical idea. Vladimir Ashkenazy celebtates Scriabin’s anniversary year with this recording of Vers La Flamme, a quintessential masterpiece that is one of the most imaginative and musically advanced works from the early 20th Century. Ashkenazy reveals the poetic expression and vibrant colours of this and other exquisite pieces. The album begins with the C sharp minor Étude Op.2 No.1, written during Scriabin’s mid-teens, and comprises such late masterworks as the title track and the five Préludes Op.74. Vladimir Ashkenazy made his first recording of Scriabin’s music for Decca over 40 years ago and this new collection of thoughtful, persuasive performances again shows his profound understanding of the music of this challenging yet rewarding composer. He also includes a touching prelude by Yulian Alexandrovich Scriabin, the composer’s son, who was drowned in 1919 at the age of 11.


James Brawn - Beethoven Odyssey 3James Brawn - Beethoven Odyssey 4Composed over twenty-five years between 1795 and 1822 and embodying the shift of musical taste from the Classic to the Romantic, Beethoven’s magnificent piano sonatas require a musician of extraordinary versatility. Award-winning British pianist James Brawn follows in the footsteps of such masters as Artur Schnabel and Daniel Barenboim in his ambitious project to record all 32 Piano Sonatas by Beethoven. Born in England in 1971, James Brawn’s musical journey began in New Zealand, where he started piano lessons at age seven and in 1979 won his first awards in Auckland. After relocating to Australia, he made a successful debut there in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.25 at the start of his solo career. He won prizes at the Melbourne Eisteddfods competitions and was awarded the Hephzibah Menuhin Memorial Scholarship by Yehudi Menuhin. In 1987, he reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards and regularly performs solo recitals at venues throughout the UK, and in Paris, Sicily, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. This third disc in James Brawn’s impressive Beethoven Odyssey includes Sonatas Nos 2 in A major, dedicated to Joseph Haydn, the tragic and powerful 17 (‘The Tempest’) and the challenging 26 (‘Les Adieux’). The recordings were made by James Brawn in 2013 at Potton Hall near Aldeburgh in Suffolk, at the idyllic country studio of his producer, Jeremy Hayes. For BEETHOVEN ODYSSEY, VOL. 4 (MSR CLASSICS MS1468) the pianist takes us on an adventurous journey through four sonatas in various keys, beginning with No. 9 in ‘the spirited key of E major’, followed by No. 15 (‘Pastorale’) in the key of D major. No. 24, in ‘the divine key of F-sharp major’, was Beethoven’s favourite sonata (‘à Thérèse’, because it was written for Countess Thérèse von Brunswick). The next one, No. 25, moves up a half- step to ‘the exuberant key of G major’. With a return to E major in the final movement of Sonata No. 27, this set of five Beethoven Beethoven Odyssey 1sonatas comes full circle to finish where it began. Brawn views this music as lyrical and life affirming and makes a convincing argument by describing the character of the entire volume in Beethoven’s own words, ‘Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck’ (With liveliness and with feeling and expression throughout). The first Volume of James Brawn’s Beethoven Odyssey VOL. 1 (MSR CLASSICS MS1465) included Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 3 and 23, the tempestuous ‘Appassionata’. VOL. 2 (MSR CLASSICS MS1466) featured a selection of signature sonatas that are amongst the most revered ever composed - No. 8 in C minor (‘Pathetique’), No. 14 in C-sharp minor (‘Moonlight’). No. 19 in G minor , No. 20 in G major, and No. 21 in C major(‘Waldstein’). James Brawn’s virtuosity, sensitivity and understanding reveal all the subtle beauty in this intense, ravishing music. JAMES BRAWN IN RECITAL (MSR CLASSICS MS1501), recorded at Patton Hall in Suffolk, includes music by J S Bach (his arrangement of Busoni’s Chaconne from Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor and the Prelude in C major from The Well Tempered Clavier), Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and Consolation No. 3, Mussorgsky magnificent Pictures at an Exhibition, and Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in B minor.


SokolovRussian concert pianist Grigory Sokolov is widely regarded to be one of the world’s greatest living musicians and ‘a poet at the piano’. He began studying the instrument at the age of five and entered the Leningrad Conservatory a the age of seven. At 12, he gave his first major recital in Moscow and came to international attention when he won the Gold Medal four years later at the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Since then he has continued to impress and amaze audiences and critics alike with his superior technique and imaginative interpretations of a huge repertoire ranging from the 12th century music of Perotinus through to 20th century composers. A regular performer at the top concert halls and festivals of Europe and North America, he has worked with orchestras including the London Philharmonia, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, New York Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker, Montreal Symphony and Moscow Philharmonic. The enigmatic and elusive Sokolov refuses to play pianos that are more than five years old and has made few records. His previous CD was in 1995 but in 2014 he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon to release recordings of some of his live performances. ‘The Salzburg Recital’ is a double-CD release featuring an outstanding recording made at the Salzburg Festival in 2008. As well as revelatory performances of several Mozart sonatas and 24 Chopin preludes there are six encores, including pieces by Scriabin, Jean-Philippe Rameau and J S Bach. This rare release will be warmly welcomed by Sokolov’s army of devoted fans, some of whom try to attend all of his extraordinary concerts.


John Ireland Piano Music 3The English composer, John Nicholson Ireland, was born in 1979 in Bowdon, Cheshire, into a family of Scottish descent and some cultural distinction. His father, a publisher and newspaper proprietor, was aged 70 at John’s birth and both his parents had died soon after he had entered the Royal College of Music at the age of 14. He studied piano and organ, and later composition under Charles Villiers Stanford. Ireland later became a teacher at the College himself, his pupils including Ernest John Moeran and Benjamin Britten. From Stanford, John Ireland inherited a thorough knowledge of the music of Beethoven, Brahms and other German classics, but as a young man he was also influenced by Debussy and Ravel, developing his own brand of ‘English Impressionism’. His output as a composer includes a piano concerto, some chamber music and many piano works. This third volume in Mark Bebbington’s acclaimed John Ireland solo piano series contains the strongest all-round selection of Ireland’s solo piano music to date and includes the world premiere recording of his early unpublished First Rhapsody dating from 1906 - a significant thirteen-minute piece that shows Ireland masterful in both structure and texture. Mark Bebbington will also give the world premiere performance of this work at his Wigmore Hall recital this year on 29 September. Rhapsody lay undiscovered in the papers of Ireland Trust Chairman, Bruce Phillips, until a curious Mark Bebbington took a look at it. The Rhapsody is wonderfully virtuosic - full of fiendishly difficult piano writing that he was to eschew in his later works in favour of greater lyrical restraint. The disc also includes Ireland’s Rhapsody of 1915 as well as the four Preludes, written in the early years of World War 1. Of these, ‘The Holy Boy’, was written on Christmas day 1913 and is one of Ireland’s best-known pieces. Other works include the late-Romantic ardour of April, probably Ireland’s single most popular piano piece and the deeply felt Prelude in E flat. Mark Bebbington’s performs these brilliant miniatures with elegance, precision and panache.


ALICJA FIDERKIEWICZ PLAYS SCHUMANNAlicja Fiderkiewicz 24159Born in Warsaw, Poland, Alicja Fiderkiewicz’s outstanding musical talent was recognised at the age of three by her elder sister’s piano teacher. With her passion for music, perfect pitch and astonishing sense of rhythm, Alicja began studying the piano in earnest and entered Karol Szymanowski’s School of Music in Warsaw at the age of seven. Two years later, she was accepted into the Central School of Music attached to the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatoire in Moscow, where in addition to her musical studies, she gave recitals at the Moscow Conservatoire and performed in many parts of Russia and the Ukraine. On returning to Warsaw, continued her musical education in Karol Szymanowski’s Lyceum of Music and won the Polish National Bach and Beethoven Competitions and received the Chopin Scholarship four years in succession. Having graduated from with Distinction and being awarded the prestigious gold medal, she continued her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she won a number of college awards and concerto competitions. She participated in various masterclasses, including performing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit for Professor Vlado Perlemutter and represented her college in many concert venues throughout the UK. She has since appeared with major Alicja Fiderkiewicz 24160orchestras such as the Hallé, La Scala in Milan, Warsaw National Philharmonic and Polish Radio & TV Orchestra, and has also given recitals for BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV. Her performances have been highly praise by Martha Argerich and Fou Ts’ong and as well as giving masterclasses in England and internationally she has released four highly acclaimed CDs. For several years, Alicja Fiderkiewicz has given the Celebrity Recital at the International Summer School and Festival for Pianists in Manchester. Three of the concerts were recorded and given limited circulation by Dunelm Records and have now been remastered and made more widely available for this fine pianist’s rapidly growing fan base and by public demand. The live recording of works by Schumann is from her Celebrity Recital given in 2007: Humoreske in B flat major, Romance in F sharp major, and the Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor. CELEBRITY RECITAL: FRANCK, CHOPIN & HINDEMITH (DIVINE ART ddv 24159) dates from 2004 and includes a powerful performance of César Franck’s Prélude, Choral et Fugue, four pieces by Chopin, and Paul Hindemith’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B flat major. CELEBRITY RECITAL: SZYMANOWSKI & CHOPIN (DIVINE ART ddv 24160) was recorded in 2005 and demonstrates Alicja Fiderkiewicz’s renowned prowess in interpreting the works of her Polish compatriots Fryderyk Chopin (including two Nocturnes) and Karol Szymanowski. ‘Alicja Fiderkiewicz...a pianist of rare quality...she plays with the kind of old-fashioned simplicity associated with the playing of her two great compatriots - Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Artur Rubinstein.’ - Piano Magazine.


Annie FischerHungarian pianist Annie Fischer (1914–1995) was born in Budapest and studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music there with Ernő Dohnányi. In 1933 she won the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in her native city and in the many decades that followed she enjoyed a prolific career, playing mainly in Europe and Australia. Her amazing talent for music was accompanied by a sound foundation in the art, exceptional skills, precision and an outstanding intelligence as a performer. Her interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Schumann, as well as Hungarian composers like Béla Bartók continue to receive the highest praise from pianists and critics. Despite her superior technical skills, she never indulged in virtuosity for just virtuosity’s sake: she complemented her brilliant technique with varied key-pressing and a refined, sophisticated sound. The honesty, artless simplicity, purity and deep musicality of Annie Fischer’s piano performances can still be enjoyed today through her many studio recordings. This beautifully presented 3-CD box set features music by Beethoven (Piano Concerto No. 3), Liszt, Schubert and four works by Mozart, including his Piano Concertos Nos 20 and 21, with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ervin Lukács. Fischer’s intense yet seemingly effortless playing was greatly admired by contemporaries such as Otto Klemperer and Sviatoslav Richter, who wrote that ‘Annie Fischer is a great artist imbued with a spirit of greatness and genuine profundity.’


Rimsky-Korsakov - ScheherazadeRussian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Sheherazade, written in 1888, is based on One Thousand and One Nights, sometimes known as The Arabian Nights. This supremely romantic work combines two features typical of Russian music and of Rimsky-Korsakov: dazzling, colourful orchestration and an interest in the East, which figured greatly in the history of Imperial Russia, as well as orientalism in general. Rimsky-Korsakov’s most popular work was used in a ballet by Michel Fokine for the Ballets Russes in 1910 and passages from the suite have been adapted for films and Olympics ice-skating routines. Arrangements have been made for clarinet and piano as well as for brass ensemble and percussion. Following their critically acclaimed Divine Art CDs featuring transcriptions of works by Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Chopin, husband and wife duo Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow have recorded Scheherazade and the little known Neapolitan Song, which the composer unwittingly stole from Luigi Denza thinking it was a traditional folk tune. The transcriptions of Sheherazade are by Rimsky-Korsakov and Antar was transcribed by his wife Nadezhda Purgold, a skilled composer herself. After more than thirty years, Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow can lay claim to be one of the world’s leading piano duos, displaying stunning precision and remarkable musicality.


Benjamin GrosvenorBritish pianist Benjamin Grosvenor first achieved prominence in 2004 as the 11-year-old, youngest-ever winner of the Keyboard section of the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year Competition. His concerto debuts at the age of 13 at New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall have been followed by many acclaimed concerto and solo recital appearances around the world. In 2011, he opened the BBC Proms with a performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 2 – the youngest-ever soloist to perform on the First Night - and became the youngest British musician ever signed by Decca, as well as the first British pianist to join the label in almost 60 years. His first Decca recording, including the four Chopin Scherzi and Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, was acclaimed by critics and, in a unique double honour, won the coveted Gramophone Award for ‘Best Instrumental Recording’ of 2012 while the pianist himself was named ‘Young Artist of the Year’, becoming Gramophone’s youngest-ever double award-winner. He went on also to win the Critics’ Choice Award at the Classic Brits ceremony and the Diapason d’or Award as ‘Best Revelation of the Year’. His recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and concertos by Saint-Saëns and Ravel was released in 2013 and this latest Decca album, Dances, features some of his favourite composers inspired by the music of movement. It’s a dazzling display of solo works for piano from Bach to Boogie Woogie via Chopin (two contrasting polonaises), Granados (his charming Valses Poeticos), Albéniz, Scriabin and Schulz-Evler’s arrangement of Johann Strauss’s the Blue Danube. Benjamin Grosvenor is appearing at two BBC Proms in 2014, performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Cesar Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the BBC Philharmonic at the Royal Albert Hall on 8 August. His debut Proms recital on the 1 September at Cadogan Hall will include the premiere of Judith Weir’s composition Day Break Shadows Flee. ‘Grosvenor is the most mesmerising young pianist Britain has produced for decades.’ - The Times.


Magic BoxesThe sound world that is disclosed by opening a music box has always fascinated musicians and many artists have been attracted by the ethereal appeal of these small musical mechanisms invented three-hundred years ago. Their imperceptible vibrations and celestial sounds communicating tenderness and serenity evoke the reassuring atmosphere of childhood. Curiously, the sound of the carillon began instead to be imitated in works that took inspiration from fairy tales and legends, automatons, literary themes, or magical/surreal atmospheres. Haydn and Beethoven are among those who composed works for these mechanisms and both are represented here among this collection of 32 delightful miniatures performed by pianist Dario Müller. Others include the Tic-Tac Polka from Johann Strauss’s operetta The Bat, recorded in an arrangement for piano made by Otto Schulhof, and works by Joaquin Turina, Brahms, Alfredo Casella, Prokofiev, Villa-Lobos, and Ketèlbey (The Clock and the Dresden Figures). Some pieces reproduce the various tinkling sounds of music boxes, snuff-boxes and clocks, such as Emil Nebling’s Spieldose.


ZOFOSince joining forces as a professional piano duo in 2009, critically acclaimed solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi - ZOFO - have electrified audiences from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo Japan with their dazzling artistry and outside-the-box thematic programming for piano-four-hands. ZOFO is shorthand for 20-finger orchestra (ZO=20 and FO=finger orchestra). This prize winning American Steinway Artist Ensemble - one of only a handful of duos worldwide devoted exclusively to piano duets - boldly breaks new ground for piano-four-hands groups by focusing on 20th and 21st century repertoire and by commissioning new duet works from noted composers each year. ZOFO’s debut album, Mind Meld, received a 2013 Grammy nomination and thir second, Mosh Pit put the duo’s considerable keyboard skills to the test in exciting, high energy, evocative dance themed duets from an all American group of noted 20th century composers. In this third album, Zimmermann and Nakagoshi take the listener on an intergalactic voyage through the Milky Way, with mesmerising, outer space-themed duet works by four noted composers of the 20th and 21st centuries - Gustav Holst, George Crumb, David Lang and Urmas Sisask. Estonian composer Urmas Sisask sets the mood with the other-worldly sounds of his composition The Milky Way, featuring aurally stunning inside and outside the piano techniques that evoke a sense of the cosmos. The journey continues with exciting arrangements of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, which emerge sparklingly refreshed, and visits to the stars Alpha Centauri and Beta Cygni as musically envisioned by George Crumb in his exotic one-piano-four-hands masterpiece Celestial Mechanics (Makrokosmos IV). The space exploration concludes with David Lang’s short contemplative piece Gravity, which metaphorically coaxes the listener back to earth in slow-moving patterns of descending notes. The Pure Audio Blu-ray recording has remarkable sonic clarity and colour, with high resolution surround sound and stereo versions, standard CD and digital copies available.


Gershwin Piano WorksThe great American composer George Gershwin wrote many vocal and theatrical works as well as several classics for piano and orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue, written in 1924 for solo piano and jazz band, combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. The piece received its premiere in a concert entitled An Experiment in Modern Music, given in 1924 in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band with Gershwin playing the piano. Rhapsody in Blue was orchestrated three times by Ferde Grofé and the final 1942 version for piano and symphony has become one of the most popular American concert works. Berlin-born pianist Corinna Simon plays the piano version the magnificent Rhapsody in Blue, which the composer once recorded on perforated rolls for player piano. This collection of Gershwin’s music includes American in Paris in Miniature in a piano version by Maurice C Whitney as well as 18 superb Gershwin songs (from The Man I Love and Swanee to I Got Rhythm), Three Preludes, and several unknown treats found among Gershwin’s papers. This is a disc of outstanding music exuberantly played by the excellent Corinna Simon


Sebastian StanleyEnglish pianist Sebastian Stanley was born in Andalucia, southern Spain and moved to Britain aged four. He had his first piano lesson aged 13 and later graduated with distinction from the Royal College of Music. As well as teaching and giving master-classes in schools around England, he has been a regular accompanist for many instrumentalists and in partnership with Jonathan Parkin on clarinet the duo has given many recitals around Britain. Sebastian Stanley has performed as a soloist in the USA, Germany and venues throughout the UK with a repertoire that includes Liszt’s First Piano Concerto, Rachmaninov’s Second, Beethoven’s Fourth and numerous Mozart concertos. His first release under a three year contract with EMEC Discos of Madrid featured entrancing twentieth century Spanish music by Granados, Albeniz and Frederico Mompou. This latest double-CD release includes more music by Enrique Granados - his 12 Spanish Dances and the highly ornamented Goyescas, subtitled Los majos enamorados (The Gallants in Love). Written in 1911, this wonderful piano suite was inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya. In 1915 Granados wrote a one-act opera, also called Goyescas, to a Spanish libretto by Fernando Periquet y Zuaznaba, using melodies from the piano suite. Sebastian Stanley plays this beautiful, intricate music with innate sympathy and masterful technique. Sleeve notes are by the renowned Granados scholar and author Dr Walter Aaron Clark.


Mussorgsky - Steven OsborneRussian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s exuberant suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, was inspired by an 1874 exhibition of over 400 works by Viktor Hartmann at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg. Mussorgsky was a friend of the artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, who had died the previous year aged only 39, and both men were devoted to the cause of an intrinsically Russian art. The ten movement suite is Mussorgsky’s most famous piano composition, and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists. It has been made even more popular through various arrangements by others, including Maurice Ravel’s wonderful orchestral arrangement. Steven Osborne here performs this Russian masterpiece, a great pianistic challenge in which the spectacular textures of the climactic movement ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ require the highest technical accomplishments. The CD also features two sets of Prokofiev’s miniatures. Visions Fugitives (fleeting visions) is a set of highly original pieces based on a poem by Russian poet Konstantin Balmont. The five Sarcasms are experimental percussive pieces with considerable rhythmic motion. Steven Osborne is one of Britain’s foremost musicians, renowned for his idiomatic approach to a wide variety of repertoire. His numerous awards include the 2009 Gramophone Award for his recording of Britten’s works for piano and orchestra, as well as first prize at both the Naumburg International Competition (New York) and Clara Haskil Competition.


Schubert - Piano DuetsSchubert wrote many great piano works for four hands, the first such pieces dating from 1810 when he still was a child. During the summers of 1818 and 1824 he worked as a piano-teacher for Count Esterhazy in Hungary, where he wrote several of his finest piano works for four hands. An unusual feature in them is that the arms of the players often cross, probably an intentional way to make physical contact with the young Countess Karolin with whom Schubert had expressed affection. On this recording, the excellent British duo of Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne give elegant and compelling performances of six Schubert piano duets, including the Allegro in A minor ‘Lebensstürme’, Rondo in A major, Variations on an original theme in A flat major, and the marvelous Fantasie in F minor. One of the masterpieces written in 1824, the year of Schubert’s death, this last work opens with one of the composer’s most hauntingly beautiful melodies. Hyperion has also released a CD of SCHUMANN PIANO MUSIC (CDA67780) by the acclaimed Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt, who was named Artist of the Year at the Gramophone Awards in 2006. Her playing here is stylish and mesmerising, bringing colour and clarity to three of Schumann’s most captivating works: the famous Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Davidsbündlertänze (written for Clara Schumann) and the passionate Sonata No 2 in G minor.


Simone DinnersteinThe remarkable American pianist Simone Dinnerstein has fast been gaining international attention since making a triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2005, performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. She has also performed in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, at the Aspen and Ravinia festivals, in San Francisco, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Bremen, and at the Stuttgart Bach Festival. On November 22 in 2007 she made her debut at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie, performing Bach’s French Suite No. 5, the world premiere recording of contemporary American composer Philip Lasser’s Variations on a Bach Chorale, and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32, Op. 111. The concert was recorded live and is now released here on Simone Dinnerstein’s second album for Telarc. This is a stunning recital in which she plays with passion, marvelous technical virtuosity and an entirely appropriate sense of spontaneity that expresses the energy and tenderness of this exhilarating music. Highly recommended.


StorytellerBorn in 1979 in Hastings, Jason Boyd developed a love of music from a very early age, first learning to play guitar and then piano. After completing his studies at Sussex University and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama he first starting teaching piano and keyboard before taking up the post as Head of Music at Bexhill College, whwere he now combines his time between teaching and composing music influenced by people such as Philip Glass, Michael Nyman and Enya. His latest solo piano album, Storyteller, features ten original tracks that aim to create beauty through simplicity, with memorable melodies and calming chord progressions. Inspired by imagery suggested in titles such as ‘Reflections’ and ‘Distant Stars’, each piece speaks directly to the listener as the piano in effect becomes the storyteller. Jason Boyd’s compositions create a calm, meditative mood, making this the perfect music to help you wind down after a hard day at work. Storyteller at Amazon.


The Jazz Age for Piano DuoThe internationally renowned Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow formed their piano duo in 1984 and have given many two-piano and piano-duet recitals as well as double concertos, taking in major festivals in Europe and the USA. Their concert repertoire mixes well-known masterpieces and rarities, often including first hearings of unjustly neglected works, and their recordings (approaching forty in number) include many world premières. On this hugely enjoyable CD, the acclaimed British duo play American (and American influenced) piano music from the Jazz Age, which in turn was inspired by a collection of short stories published in 1922 by F. Scott Fitzgerald under the title Tales of the Jazz Age. The Great War was over and, despite political turmoil, brutal racial repression and Prohibition, Americans managed to throw caution to the winds and enjoy themselves until the Great Depression struck in 1929. ‘The jazz age’ is now taken to refer to this ‘anything goes’ period, during which jazz flourished and many new popular dance crazes popped up and were frequently displaced equally suddenly. The Charleston and the Fox Trot have endured, but others included such animal inspirations as the Kangaroo Hop, Grizzly Bear, Bunny Hug and Horse Trot. The music here includes Gershwin’s own two-piano version of An American in Paris and Embraceable You (arranged by Percy Grainger for piano duet) and Darius Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, as well as works by Edward Burlingame Hill, Hungarian-born Alexander Moyzes and Mátyás Seiber (who wrote jazz works for John Dankworth), and Hoagy Carmichael’s classic Stardust.


The prolific composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) was the fifth child and second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was a pioneer of the sonata-symphony form and sometimes criticised by contemporaries for his innovation, though Mozart said of him, ‘He is the parent and we are the children’. He died in obscurity but subsequently had enormous influence with his book ‘The True Manner of Keyboard Performance’, which is a standard treatise on keyboard playing to this day. As a composer C. P. E. Bach was extremely versatile and almost all the genres of music of his time are to be found in his œuvre, including over three hundred keyboard works. On this recording, the acclaimed young British pianist Danny Driver plays five of C P E Bach’s sonatas written during the 1740s, while the composer was in the service of King Frederick II of Prussia. As these works show, Bach’s approach to musical expressiveness found voice in frequent mood changes, abundant rests and ‘sighing’ motifs, the juxtaposition of contrasting rhythmic figures, deceptive cadences, and dramatic, rhetorical harmonic interjections. He had a remarkable ability to improvise fantasias within a coherent structure and Driver’s stylish and technically brilliant performances bring to life this often overlooked music. ‘It would be impossible to over-estimate Driver’s impeccable technique and musicianship...This is surely one of the finest of all recent keyboard issues.’ - Gramophone Magazine.


Great Spanish PianistsThe Dal Segno catalogue launched in 2003, focusing primarily on the preserved original piano roll recordings by some of the most celebrated composers from the Classical, Romantic and Contemporary eras at the keyboard. The original roll recordings were made between 1904 and 1935 for Ampico, Duo-Art and Welte Mignon who were manufacturers of the reproducing piano. The recordings in Dal Segno’s ‘Masters of the Piano Roll’ series were made by a ‘push up’ device that can transcribe and ‘play’ the Piano Rolls onto any modern day piano thus enabling the performances of Debussy and Mahler in full digital sound nearly 100 years later! The Great Spanish Pianists features recordings made from original piano rolls by Granados, De Falla, Segovia and Laparra playing their own compositions in delightful Spanish pieces composed for piano. Over the last few years, the Dal-Segno collection of CDs has grown rapidly and 2008 saw the signing of the sensational Chinese pianist, Wu Qian, whose debut album of music by Schumann and Liszt received great critical acclaim. The catalogue also features a selection of recordings from the 1980s, originally released by Denon, with artists such as Andras Schiff, Jacques Rouvier (see previous review) and Herbert Blomstedt.


Domenico Scarlatti was born the son of composer Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, Italy, in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Frideric Handel. He moved to Portugal in 1719 to become music master to the young Princess Maria Barbar, and when she became Queen of Spain in 1729, he followed her there. Respected as an extemporiser on the harpsichord, and for his dazzling technique, he did not begin to formally write his keyboard music down until 1738, when he was knighted by Portugal and composed a volume for presentation. A few years later, he collected a number of his older pieces into two more volumes. Ill health and gambling debts galvanised him during the last six years before his death in 1757 as he transferred to paper some two hundred suites which he called sonatas. Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas are single movements, mostly in binary form, and are almost all intended for the harpsichord (there are four for organ, and a few where Scarlatti suggests a small instrumental group). Some of them display harmonic audacity in their use of discords, and also unconventional modulations to remote keys. They combine pure joyous sounds with the taut rhythms of Spanish dance and the harmonic brilliance of his Italian heritage to a degree that places him among the greatest musicians of all time. This six CD box set (for the price of four) is the first volume of the recordings all of Scarlatti’s sonatas, eloquently played on the Bosendorfer Imperial piano by Carlo Grante. It’s a splendid and fascinating undertaking: a journey through shared cultural experience, as well as one that explores the subtle thought processes of a highly influential musical genius.


Amy Beach 2The prolific American composer and pianist Amy Beach was born as Amy Marcy Cheney into a distinguished New England family in 1867. A child prodigy, she was able to sing forty tunes accurately by the age of one, taught herself to read at three, and began composing simple waltzes age only four. She began formal piano lessons with her mother at the age of six, and a year later started giving public recitals, playing works by Handel, Beethoven, Chopin, and her own pieces. She made her professional debut in Boston in 1883 and shortly afterwards appeared as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Opera. Following her marriage in 1885 to Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach she limited her performances to one public recital a year, and at her husband’s request, she devoted herself to composition. With the success of her Mass in E Flat Major in 1892, Amy Beach was recognised as one of America’s finest composers. After her husband died, she toured Europe as a pianist, playing her own compositions, before returning to America to use her status to further the careers of many young musicians. Kirsten Johnson follows up Volume 1 of her series of the complete works of Amy Beach with this album containing one of her most important works, Variations on Balkan Themes, as well as all of the piano pieces composed at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. The brilliant Serenade shows her mastery of virtuoso piano writing and Eskimos displays her ability to create delightful vignettes. Moderato and Children’s Album are world première recordings. Exquisite attention to detail, lovely tone colours and an amazing technique make Kirsten Johnson’s recording indispensable.


Claude Debussy’s Préludes pieces for solo piano are divided into two livres, or books, containing twelve preludes each. Unlike previous cycles of twenty-four preludes, such as Chopin’s, Debussy’s follow no set pattern of key signatures, but instead move arbitrarily through the possible keys. The first book was written between 1909 and 1910, and the second between 1911 and 1912. Debussy never intended the pieces to be performed in a series, considering them rather as individual works. The titles were given by the composer to create images or sensory associations for the listener. Several are poetically vague: for example, the meaning of Voiles is ambiguous (in French it could mean either ‘veils’ or ‘sails’). They are written at the end of each movement, allowing the performer to discover impressions for himself, without being guided by Debussy’s own thoughts. The mood of the pieces varies from the profound calm of La cathédrale engloutie to the unrestrained virtuosity of Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest, and from the mysterious Brouillards, to the explosive Feux d’artifice. The most famous are both from the first book: the beautiful La fille aux cheveux de lin and La cathédrale engloutie, inspired by the legend of the sunken city of Ys. French pianist and composer Jaques Rouvier was born in Marseille in 1947 and studied at the Paris Conservatory with Jean Hubeau, Vlado Perlemuter and Pierre Sancan. In 1970 he founded a piano trio with Jean-Jacques Kantorow and Philippe Muller with whom he continues to perform, and is a teacher at the Paris Conservatory. His fine interpretations of Debussy’s remarkable preludes show him to be a pianist of subtlety and virtuosity. This is one of many excellent releases from Dal Segno Records, an independent label producing high quality classical recordings.


Inside the PianoThese ‘21st Century Improvisations’ by the brilliant Taiwan-born pianist Hsia-Jung Chang were created using mostly the inside of the piano rather than the keys, with unconventional sounds reminiscent of the meditative instruments qin, wood blocks, bells, ancient Asian melodies, willow talk, creaking doorways, bugs - and Chopin. Her sister Hsi-Ling set up the microphones and left Hsia-Jung Chang alone for the day with her mallets, oscillators, walnut husks, newspaper, spray bottle, and the remote. ‘My original intention was to explore sound ideas for my Taiji teacher’s DVD, at his request. For this I had planned to evoke the qin, my favorite Chinese string instrument. However, improvisations have a way of deviating from original intention, and I soon found myself in the realm of the subconscious, of serendipitous and psychedelic sound collages, unraveling stories narrated by strange voices from other dimensions. I will be the first to admit this music is not suited for dinner parties or driving in the car due to it’s unpredictable nature. Listening to it in a quiet environment with the lights off works the best for me.’ This is a fascinating collection of experimental music that is accessible, surprising, witty, reflective and often eerily beautiful (especially the lovely ‘Drunk on Taiji’ - watch video). The album is highly recommended, as are Hsia-Jung Chang’s recordings of Chopin Etudes and Preludes. For more information, visit the website at www.hsiajungchang.com.


Chopin EtudesChopin’s Études revolutionised piano playing radically when they appeared for the first time. Opus 10, the first group of 12, were composed throughout 1829 and 1832 and were published in 1833, in France, Germany, and England. The 12 Études of Opus 25 were composed at various times between 1832 and 1836, and were published in the same countries in 1837. These pieces represent some of the most challenging and evocative of all the works in concert piano repertoire and are amongst the most frequently performed in concert. Some are so popular they have been given nicknames - notably the Revolutionary Etude (Op. 10, No. 12). Hsia-Jung Chang follows her recording of Chopin Preludes with this excellent new album of Études, revealing the power as well as the poetry in these spectacular works. As a self-described Chopin addict, the Taiwan-born pianist says in her sleeve notes: ‘Each étude is an artfully crafted musical masterpiece inspired by physical motion.  Out of a single floating feather Chopin would create a flying bird of paradise.’


Russian Piano Music Series Volume 2Described by The New York Times as ‘a man whose nature was designed with pianos in mind’, Liverpool-born Anthony Goldstone is one of Britain’s most respected pianists. A sixth-generation pupil of Beethoven through his great teacher Maria Curcio, Goldstone was born in Liverpool and studied with Derrick Wyndham at the Royal Manchester College of Music and with Curcio in London. His career has taken him to six continents and the Last Night of the Proms (where he was much praised by Benjamin Britten) as well as many broadcasts and nearly seventy CDs. He is also one half of the brilliant piano duo Goldstone and Clemmow with his wife Caroline. The second volume of his Russian Piano Music Series features works by Vladimir Rebikov, who was born in Siberia in 1866 and died in 1920. In addition to many piano works Rebikov wrote numerous orchestral, vocal and stage pieces, including ‘musico-psycholographic dramas’ in some of which he experimented by combining spoken and sung text to a musical accompaniment. He wrote in a bewildering array of styles and was admired by other composers, including Janáček, Debussy and Grieg, but despite his considerable achievements - he as been called ‘the father of Russian modernism’ - Rebikov has been driven to the margins of musical history. This is borne out by the fact that, as far as can be determined, out of this recital programme only a piece of two minutes’ duration has previously been recorded. Volume three of the series, originally available on Olympia, features the rather better known Reinhold Gliere, who was born in Kiev and by 1913 had won fame both as a composer and conductor. For over twenty years from 1920 he was Professor of Composition at the Moscow Conservatory and was probably the greatest musical survivor of his time as well as being a highly respected teacher. The Preludes included here have memorable melodies ranging from the virtuosic to the intense to intimate and are considered to be the most important of Gliere’s solo piano pieces. Anthony Goldstone’s formidable playing on both discs is technically superb and articulate, revealing all the passion and colour in this little heard music.


On this new CD the British husband and wife duo, Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow, play compositions by Chopin arranged for two pianos or piano duet, including the Second Piano Concerto in a version for two pianos by Chopin himself and his pupil Carl Mikuli – a world première recording. In all there are six such premières on this CD. As well as the Second Piano Concerto the pieces included are Chopins Rondo in C major, Op. 73 for two pianos; Variations on a Theme of Rossini, transcribed for piano duet; Valse-Paraphrase (daprès Chopin composed by Eduard Schütt) Op. 58 No 1, for two pianos; Valse in D flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 transcribed for two pianos (arr by Frederick Corder); Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 transcribed for two pianos (arr Ottilie Sutro); Etude nach Fr. Chopin (Brahms) transcribed for two pianos; Variations on a National Air of Moore for piano duet (compl. Goldstone); Revolutionary Raindrop Rag (Goldstone) for two pianos. A fascinating exploration of rarely heard music played with dazzling virtuosity and verve.


All Frederic Chopin’s Preludes are played immaculately on this CD by the brilliant young pianist Hsia-Jung Chang. They have been recorded in digital stereo on a rebuilt 1907 Pleyel piano, a make of instrument the composer is believed to have preferred for his music. Hsia-Jung Chang performs the works with great delicacy and refinement, allowing a wide spectrum of colour and moods to emerge in a way that appears effortless. Hsia-Jung Chang is currently based in New York City and has performed throughout the USA as well as in Scandinavia and Asia. She is active as soloist and chamber musician in addition to being a guest lecturer at the Manhattan School of Music and elsewhere. Her equally impressive recording of the complete Chopin Impromptus, Ballades, Berceuse is also available.


Early ‘Piano Trios’ tended to have the same overall shape as a sonata. Initially this consisted of three movements, though some of Haydn’s have only two. The piano trios of the Classical era, especially those of Haydn, are dominated by the piano part. The violin only plays the melody some of the time and the cello often just doubles the bass line in the piano. This practice was related to the sonority of the instruments of Haydn’s day, when the piano was fairly weak in tone and benefited from the tonal strengthening of other instruments. Mozart’s earlier trios were also dominated by the piano part, though Beethoven’s were able to take advantage of the increase in power and sonority of the piano to allow all three instruments to contribute more equally. Haydn’s piano trios may have become underrated partly because of the limitations of the instrument in his day and partly because they have a ‘domestic’ reputation, being intended originally for playing at home, often by women. In fact these elegant and lively works are all well worth listening to and the later ones are masterpieces, as Haydn experiments in ways that he was reluctant to risk with more public works. Among the women pianists whom Haydn met while he was in London in the 1790s, one of the most highly-regarded was Therese Jansen, a pupil of Clementi. Haydn named her as among the capital’s most important pianists and wrote for her a set of three piano trios published in London in 1797, two of which are included on this disc. The challenging piano parts suggests that she must have been a very fine performer and indeed the string-writing is equally demanding. This is the second disc of Haydn piano trios from The Florestan Trio in which the Edinburgh-born pianist Susan Tomes is joined by Anthony Marwood (violin) and Richard Lester (cello) in wonderfully graceful and expressive performances of this life-enhancing music.


John R. Williamson was born in 1929 in Manchester and studied composition under Richard Hall and piano with Hedwig Stein at the Royal Manchester College of Music. He also studied briefly with Lennox Berkeley and has himself taught music in a variety of schools and colleges in England and Wales. Ccompositions include five piano concerti, an extensive amount of solo piano music, twenty five sonatas for many combinations, chamber music, orchestral pieces, a symphony and a cello concerto. His unique style, which he describes as ‘palindromic’, makes frequent use of pentatonic and palindromic harmonic and melodic idioms. He has a special affinity with English songs and has written more than 140, about 90 of them being settings of A E Housman poems. Volumes One and Two of Williamson’s Piano Music were originally released on the Dunelm label, but their release now on Divine Art makes them generally available for the first time. Volume Three has not been issued previously. In these recordings, pianist Murray McLachlan - Head of Keyboard Studies at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester - gives eloquently persuasive performances of Williamson’s unusual and finely crafted works, including three sonatas and a series of preludes.


Born in Cedar Grove, New Jersey in 1972, Ken Elkinson played piano in Atlanta bars and restaurants before moving to New York City to further his musical career and release his first two albums. He later moved to Los Angeles, California, where he released several more albums. His latest release, Link, is another relaxed and engaging mix of jazz and classical music. All twelve compositions are by Ken Elkinson and his mellifluous piano style is heard to great effect on tracks such as the mysterious title song, the wistful Juniper, the soulful Dry Lake Bed, the lovely Sunlight Through Trees, darkly thoughtful Doubt, and the lovely Sway. This excellent album would make ideal background music for a romantic dinner or create an intimate vibe to help you unwind after a hard day, though the reflective music also rewards careful listening. The funny and quirkily confessional sleeve notes are an unexpected bonus. Also recommended are Ken Elkinson’s previous albums: Midnight Conversation (1997), Revelry (2000), Opal (2004), (Cue 2006) and Generations of Yuletide (Christmas songs, 2008). Also available as a digital download is an excellent collection of covers, Borrowed Tracks, featuring such classics as the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Blue (Joni Mitchell), After The Gold Rush (Neil Young), Redemption Song (Bob Marley) and Send In the Clowns (Stephen Sondheim). Website: www.kenelkinson.com


The French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard was born in 1957 in Lyon. He denies that he was ever a Wunderkind but by the age of seven he was able to play the dauntingly complex pieces of music of Arnold Schoenberg, and aged 12 he entered the Paris Conservatoire as a pupil of Yvonne Loriod. In 1973, he was awarded the chamber music prize of the Conservatoire and that same year won first prize at the international Olivier Messiaen Competition. In 1977, still aged only 19, Pierre Boulez invited him to become a founding member of the elite Ensemble InterContemporain contemporary music group. His close associations with Messiaen and Boulez (one of Messiaen’s pupils) changed his life, vastly widening his already spacious horizons, and enriching his musicianship, both spiritual and technical. In his successful career as a concert pianist, conductor and recording artist, Aimard is particularly committed to contemporary music and has appeared as the soloist in premieres of important works such as Répons by Pierre Boulez, Klavierstück XIV by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the eleventh and thirteenth piano études of György Ligeti, who described him as ‘the leading performer of contemporary piano music today’. He has also made acclaimed recordings of music by Mozart and the five Beethoven piano concertos with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, excerpts from which can be heard on this wide-ranging double CD collection. Other highlights include Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, part of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, Charles Ives’ Piano Sonata No.2, part of a live recording of Dvorák’s Piano Concerto in G minor, Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op.1, and works by Ligeti (Études: No.17: À bout de souffle / No.18: Canon), Steve Reich (Music for pieces of wood) and Elliott Carter (Two Diversions). This is the ideal introduction to the work of a musician who combines adventurous musical virtuosity with modesty and an interest in Zen Buddhism.


cueKen Elkinson’s album contains eleven original piano compositions and includes a debut vocal track, Beautiful Sadness, featuring the voice of acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tom Freund. The album also features cover artwork by Mark Rothko and has a booklet with a poem by award-winning poet Elizabeth Spires. This is an elegant mix of jazz, classical and new age sounds, with highlights that include the opening track, Portenos, the beautiful title composition, the carefree Wanderlust, strangely-named Tetherball, the gently drifting January and Beautiful Sadness, where Elkinson’s distinctive piano combines with Tom Freund’s wonderfully smoky voice to winning effect.


This new album, released with support from the PRS Foundation for New Music / The Bliss Trust, features music for piano by John Pitts beautifully played by Steven Kings. Changes is a minimalistic counting duel for 20 nifty fingers, which starts with the skeleton of a short repeated phrase then moves through two enormously tricky sections in which the two pianists have overlapping bars of different lengths before the duet finally builds to a dramatic climax. Toccata is a tour de force of driving energy, based on wild jazz-infused harmony: technically demanding, mentally strenuous, the music's energy is regulated until the final release in the last section, where all the thematic fragments converge, and uninterrupted momentum is achieved. The seven ‘intensely pleasant’ Airs & Fantasias for solo piano were written between 1992 and 2007. The airs are essentially melody-dominated and the fantasias are pieces in free form with a minimalistic use of repeated and rotating patterns. The pieces are intended to be performed individually or in numbered pairs, or as a complete collection. The subtitles are largely programmatic or self-explanatory, other than Air 3 (On an anagram) which uses a melodic motif based on the letters of a name. The performance of Fantasia 2, based on the famous Westminster Chimes, uses optional piano preparations (a small plastic ruler secured loosely in place over middle C to the E above, another ruler wedged between 2 of the 3 F strings, and a bent metal ruler from the next C up over a further octave). An extra track, ‘Are You Going’ for thirty nifty fingers (six hands at a single piano), is available as a download only at cd.tp/ipm08a. Steven Kings plays with great assurance, revealing the subtlety of music that ranges from excitingly virtuoso pieces to serene, melodic reflections.


In 1722, the year after Johann Sebastian Bach completed his first set of twenty-four Preludes and Fugues, The Well-Tempered Clavier, he left the court of Anhalt-Cöthen to become Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. During succeeding years he wrote a vast amount of music, including cantatas, motets, masses, passions and oratorios, as well as the ‘Goldberg’ Variations and another set of twenty-four Preludes and Fugues. He left no definitive copy of what is now known as Book II of ‘the 48’ and it wasn’t until 1801 that a complete edition was published. The Preludes in the second book are on a much larger scale than in Book I and hints of the ‘sonata form’ can be heard in many of them. Book I may have more familiar pieces but the composer’s maturity and genius are more evident in the final volume. In Bach’s time the word ‘clavier’ might refer to any keyboard instrument, including harpsichord, clavichord, spinet or virginal, or even the organ. Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has travelled to twenty-one countries on six continents since 2007 giving celebrated performances of the Well-Tempered Clavier to highly appreciative audiences. The performances were often accompanied by a masterclass or lecture. In this four-CD box set of new 2008 recordings she plays the complete Well-Tempered Clavier using the ‘new-found freedom’ that she discovered in her later performances, and especially her use of Fazioli pianos, ‘whose luminous, powerful, and also ever so delicate sounds opened new worlds to me and allowed my imagination to take flight’. These are poised, vibrant and thrilling performances of some of the most demanding and rewarding music ever written ‘The pre-eminent Bach pianist of our time’ - The Guardian.


Chopin Piano Sonatas02Frédéric Chopin gave piano concerts at the age of eight and was hailed as a musical genius when as a teenager when he composed a series of brilliant pieces - polonaises, waltzes, nocturnes, and poetic ballades and etudes. His first published musical work, a rondo, appeared when he was just fifteen years old and he was soon recognised as the leading pianist of Warsaw as well as a talented composer. After Poland’s failed revolt against its Russian rulers in 1830 Chopin decided to go to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life among poets, musicians, wealthy Parisians and Polish exiles. Among his many compositions he wrote only a few sonatas, including the two included on this album. His four-movement Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor was composed mainly in 1839, although the famous funeral march third movement had been written two years earlier. This sonata confused contemporary critics and Robert Schumann suggested that Chopin had simply bound together four of his most unruly children. The funeral march was played at the graveside during Chopin’s own burial at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris and has since been used at many state funerals, including that of John F. Kennedy. Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, written in 1844 and dedicated to Countess Emilie de Perthuis, was his last sonata for piano solo and may have been an attempt to address the criticisms of the previous one. It consists of four movements, with a lyrical largo replacing the funeral march. Acclaimed French-Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin here gives technically brilliant and wonderfully assured performances of both sonatas, as well as several shorter Chopin works: Berceuse in D flat major, Two Nocturnes and Barcarolle in F sharp major. ‘One of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times.’ - International Piano Quarterly.


The remarkable American pianist Simone Dinnerstein has fast been gaining international attention since making a triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2005, performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. She has also performed in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, at the Aspen and Ravinia festivals, in San Francisco, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Bremen, and at the Stuttgart Bach Festival. On November 22 in 2007 she made her debut at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie, performing Bach’s French Suite No. 5, the world premiere recording of contemporary American composer Philip Lasser’s Variations on a Bach Chorale, and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32, Op. 111. The concert was recorded live and is now released here on Simone Dinnerstein’s second album for Telarc. This is a stunning recital in which she plays with passion, marvelous technical virtuosity and an entirely appropriate sense of spontaneity that expresses the energy and tenderness of this exhilarating music. Highly recommended.


In 1722, the year after Johann Sebastian Bach completed his first set of twenty-four Preludes and Fugues, The Well-Tempered Clavier, he left the court of Anhalt-Cöthen to become Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. During succeeding years he wrote a vast amount of music, including cantatas, motets, masses, passions and oratorios, as well as the ‘Goldberg’ Variations and another set of twenty-four Preludes and Fugues. He left no definitive copy of what is now known as Book II of ‘the 48’ and it wasn’t until 1801 that a complete edition was published. The Preludes in the second book are on a much larger scale than in Book I and hints of the ‘sonata form’ can be heard in many of them. Book I may have more familiar pieces but the composer’s maturity and genius are more evident in the final volume. In Bach’s time the word ‘clavier’ might refer to any keyboard instrument, including harpsichord, clavichord, spinet or virginal, or even the organ. August 2007 sees the start of Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt’s Bach World Tour in which she will bring her celebrated performances of The Well-Tempered Clavier to twenty-five countries on six continents. Concurrently, Hyperion is releasing this limited edition box set of her iconic recordings of ‘the 48’ - held by many critics to be the definitive piano version of Bach’s incomparable masterpiece. The acclaimed pianist brings her customary lucidity, intelligence and sensitivity to this timeless music, making it sound warm and wonderfully natural. ‘The pre-eminent Bach pianist of our time’ - The Guardian.


Period-instrument specialist Joanna Leach takes us on a journey through the development of keyboard instruments used in wealthy homes, from a spinet through three square pianos, each instrument being contemporary with the music played. The four instruments on this disc span a period of just over one hundred years. It was a century which saw huge change in the tone of keyboard instruments, from the then familiar sound of the harpsichord and spinet to the new and exotic timbre of the fortepiano. The instruments chosen are typical domestic instruments of the period. While the harpsichord, and later the grand piano, was to be found in theatres, assembly rooms or larger houses, the spinet and the square piano were designed for a more ordinary domestic setting - though, due to the expense, they would be found only in rather upmarket homes. The music is by Couperin (Les Barricades Mystérieuses, Les Folies Françaises), Byrd (Pavan - The Earle of Salisbury), Handel (icluding his Toccata in G minor), J. S. Bach, Soler, Mozart (Adagio in B minor), Schubert (Six Dances) and Mendelssohn (including two Venetian Gondola Songs). This unique recital of elegantly played music vividly brings to life the sounds of another age.


Although they are perfect examples of classical form, Mozart’s piano sonatas are not as well known as they should be. Like Haydn, he wrote much of his keyboard music with the option for it to be played on either the harpsichord or the piano, which was only invented thirty years before his birth. The piano sonatas were a relatively late addition to his work, the earliest surviving one being his Sonata in C, K.279. This dates from 1775, when Mozart was nineteen and in Munich supervising the production of La finta giardiniera. The brilliant Turkish-born pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran begins this double CD with a sparkling performance of that first sonata and also plays six other early Mozart sonatas. Like the composer, Zeynep Ucbasaran’s musical talents were apparent at a very early age. She entered the Istanbul Conservatory when only four - among the youngest students ever to be admitted - and also studied in the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest as well as at Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, Germany, and at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Since 1996 she has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and become internationally acclaimed for her solo recitals, concerts and chamber music performances. Mozart sonatas can be almost boring when played badly but the performances here are excellent - natural, inventive, spontaneous and deeply satisfying. Zeynep Ucbasaran’s vibrant interpretations of these diverse works elegantly captures the essential poetry in the music. Eroica have also released a second double CD (JDT 3404) by Zeynep Ucbasaran, featuring six of Mozart’s late piano sonatas. Both albums are highly recommended.


Although better known for his string quartets and symphonies, Franz Joseph Haydn also wrote around 51 sonatas for piano as well as several other short pieces for the instrument He was not himself a pianist and most of these works date from his early years, with only three of the sonatas being written in the last twenty years of his life. The majority follow a three-movement structure but reveal a great deal of experimentation as well as his great gift for melody. Haydn transformed the keyboard sonata from a simple drawing-room divertimento to the level of high art, and the greatest among his sonatas have an intellectual rigour and a dramatic sweep that were rarely equalled by Mozart, and not surpassed until Beethoven revolutionised the form in the closing years of the eighteenth century. The Haydn sonatas cover a vast range of musical styles and material, from short, simple works to more complex thematic developments and variations. This splendid 10 CD box set features German virtuoso Rudolf Buchbinder, who was the youngest student ever to be admitted to the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. He has gone on to perform internationally with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and this fine set presents his thoughts on the Haydn sonatas, in excellent sound, from the mid 1970s.


Gloria Cheng is widely admired as a leading interpreter of contemporary music, having earned universal acclaim for her colourful performances and her unassuming virtuosity and musicality. She has premiered dozens of new compositions, including works composed specifically for her by John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Terry Riley, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and many others. Her solo discography on Telarc includes Piano Music of John Adams and Terry Riley and Piano Dance: A 20th-Century Portrait. On this new album, Gloria Cheng performs world premieres of works by three leading contemporary composers: Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky and Witold Lutoslawski. American Steven Stucky’s contemplative Four Album Leaves and Three Little Variations for David are his first fully realized piano pieces written since his childhood. The three works by the Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen are Three Preludes, Dichotomie (specially written for Cheng) and Yta II, which explores the subtleties of the piano, as well as the virtuosity of the musician playing it. Witold Lutoslawski, arguably Poland’s greatest composer since Chopin, wrote his attractive piano sonata in 1934 while he was still a composition student at the Warsaw Conservatory but the work was never published during his lifetime. Gloria Cheng’s recording is based on a combination of three sources: the Polish music publishing company PWM edition, a photocopy of a manuscript of the sonata written in the hand of the composer’s late wife, Danuta, and detailed discussions with Charles Bodman Rae, a leading expert on Lutoslawski’s music.


Alexander Clarke trained in classical piano and jazz and has composed works for piano, orchestra, choirs, music theatre, schools and jazz groups. His first piece was composed when he was 7 years old and his first significant large-scale work at the age of 18 - his Requiem for choir, soloists, orchestra and rhythm section, which was broadcast on BBC Radio. He has also written a great deal of piano music, for beginners to advanced pianists, and divides his time between teaching and performing. His music is beginning to be appreciated across the globe, and he is travelling increasingly further afield performing his own works. Tales of Cumbia is a testament to the imagination and technical skill of his playing, drawing inspiration from the awesome scenery of the English Lake District. the album is a collection of imaginative pieces that reflect the monumetal beauty of those mountains, valleys and lakes, as well as the beautiful rural countryside of Cumbria. Some of the pieces are moments of tranquility, such as Lonely Road, and others are works of climaxing drama, such as Workington Life. Each depicts an element of the wonder of Cumbrian scenery. These accomplished, impressionistic pieces vividly evoke the Lake District landscape and are beguilingly played by the composer himself. Website


Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991) was one of the most important composers in Turkish music history. As he was growing up in Turkey he witnessed radical changes in his country’s politics and culture as the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk replaced the Ottoman Empire with a secular republic based on Western models and traditions. As Atatürk had created a new cultural identity for his people and newly founded nation, Saygun found his role in developing what Atatürk had begun. A master of the neoclassical form, his works are rooted in Western musical practice yet incorporate traditional Turkish folk songs and culture (he was Bela Bartók’s colleague on an Anatolian song-collecting trip). Saygun usually adds this folk element by picking one note out of the scale and weaves a melody around it using a Turkish mode. His extensive output includes five symphonies, five operas, two piano concertos, concertos for violin, viola and cello, and a wide range of chamber and choral works. His piano music includes works that explore characteristic ‘limping’ rhythm, Turkish dance-forms and, in Inci’s Book, children’s pieces of great charm and simplicity. This recording also includes Anadolu’dan (From Anatolia), 12 Preludes on Aksak Rhythms, 10 Sketches on Aksak Rhythms and his characteristic Piano Sonatina, all played with subtle elegance by the acclaimed Turkish pianist Zeynep Üçbasaran.


[new classics] [piano]