CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21. LOEWE: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A.
Mari Kodama, pianist; Russian National Orch/Kent Nagano, cond.
PENTATONE PTC 5186 026 TT: 60:08 (5 channel)

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21. Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36.
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner, cond
PENTATONE PTC 5186 118 TT: 59:39 (5/4 CHANNEL)

Young Japanese pianist Mari Kodama, whose fine recording of three Beethoven sonatas has already been issued, continues to impress with this coupling of second piano concertos of Chopin and Loewe. This is bold playing of Chopin's concerto with no lack of delicacy in the exquisite second movement. The real prize here is the second of the two piano concertos composed by Carl Loewe (1796-1869) best-known for his lieder which has been recorded extensively by famous singers including Franz Volker, Hans Hotter, Hermann Prey, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and, more recently, Thomas Hampson. Concerto No. 2 was premiered March 10, 1831 in Berlin with the composer as soloist. It's scored for a rather large orchestra with the soloist having many opportunities for pianistic display; the solo part has been described as "overloaded with passage-work" The concerto is a delight throughout, brilliantly played by Kodama. The recording, made in February 2003 in the Moscow Conservatory's Concert Hal, is outstanding sonically, with the multi-channel technique perfectly utilized with the orchestra in front, the pianist perhaps a touch overly prominent..

Marriner's Beethoven symphonies were recorded in September 1970 in Brent Town Hall, London. These are RQR (Remstered Quadro Recordings) now issued in discrete four-channel sound (all of the RQR releases are four-channel: left & right, front & rear, but my Sony SACD player reads that there are five channels, which there are not. The sound, as on most of the RQR Pentatone releases, is outstandingly natural, clean and smooth. Marriner and his forces offer splendid performances. The only debit is rather short playing time.


R.E.B. (October 2003) (NEXT SURROUND REVIEW)