MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition. LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11. Ballade No. 2. Isolde's Liebestod.
Peter Jablonski, pianist
ALTARA ALT 1013 (F) TT: 62:19

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35.
Denis Matsuev, pianist; St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orch/Yuri Temirkanov, cond.
RCA RED SEAL 88697002332 (F) TT: 55:06

HANDEL: Concerto in A. PUJOL: Tonadilla. CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO: Capriccio Diabolico, Op 85B. MADRIGUERA: Adios. YASUI: Piccola Arietta No. 2. JOBIM: O Boto. CORDERO: Nana Para una Negrita. Concerto Antillano.
Carlos Barbosa-Lima, guitar; The Sofia Soloists/Plamen Djurov, cond.
ZOHO ZM 200707 TT: 69:33

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K. 271. Piano Concerto No. 19 in F, K. 459. 9 Variations on a Minuet by Duport , K. 573.
Clara Haskil, pianist; Kölner Rundfunk Orch/Otto Ackermann, cond. (Concerto 9)/Ferenc Fricsay, cond. (Concerto 19).

WEBER: Euryanthe Overture. MOZART: Symphony No. 33 in B flat, K. 319. TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique."
Kölner Rundfunk Orch/Erich Kleiber, cond.
MEDIA MASTERS MM 003 (F) TT: 75:51

A new full-price label, Medici Masters has arrived. Previously their releases were on Medici Classics which began life on the Monarch label. Medici Masters is reissuing a series of intriguing Cologne broadcasts. Their first issues offer Clara Haskill's performances of two Mozart concertos and Duport variations studio recordings from 1952-1956, and Erich Kleiber conducting Weber, Mozart and Tchaikovsky recorded 1953-1956. Haskill was rightfully famous for her Mozart, but these studio performances of concertos 9 and 19 have been issued before on Monarch (at budget rice) as well as Music & Arts. Concerto 9 is available in three other Haskill performances, with conductors Sacher, Casals and Jochum. Any recordings by Erich Kleiber are of interest; the Weber and Mozart are new to his discography. He had recorded the Pathétique with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra for Decca in 1953, the same year he recorded his magnificent Beethoven Fifth in Amsterdam. The Kölner orchestra (now the WDR Symphony Orchestra) shows its weakness in the Kleiber recordings with some scrappy string playing. The mono sound is adequate for the source, but it's unfortunate these weren't issued at a lower price.

I fondly remember Peter Jablonski's spectacular 1991 Decca recording of Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody, Shosakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Lutoslawski's Paganini Variations, all with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Royal Philharmonic (Decca 436 239, long discontinued). The extraordinary young pianist was 20 at the time. Ashkenazy also chose him to record the Gershwin concerto, and two works of Scriabin—Prometheus, and the piano concerto. Jablonski's recording career has been rather limited, and this new release of Pictures at an Exhibition and a Liszt collection is welcome indeed. Perhaps ArkivMusic could be coaxed into adding 436 239 to their impressive list of reissues. Another new major figure on the pianistic scene is Russian Denis Matsuev (b. 1975), who won the Eleventh International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998. Since then he has appeared in countless recitals and with many of the major orchestras of the world. Several years ago he performed all three Tchaikovsky piano concertos with the Budapest Philharmonic directed by Rico Saccani (apparently a recording exists of the first two). Now with Sony/BMG, Matsuev has this recording of Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 coupled with the first concerto of Shostakovich. Producers have gone all out to provide him with a first-class orchestra and a major conductor, as well as "honoured artist of Russia" Igor Sharapov as trumpet soloist in the Shostakovich. However, this performance of Tchaikovsky's concerto, although technically solid, is earthbound and there's little pianistic excitement. The Shostakovich fares better, but if you wish to hear Tchaikovsky's war-horse with all the stops out, try either of the Argerich recordings, or Horowitz with Toscanini—lightning really strikes there!

Master Brazilian guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima has been performing for more than a half-century. He studied with Andrés Segovia and plays—to perfection—all styles of music for the guitar: classical, popular, and jazz. Many important composers have written works for him including Alberto Ginastera, whose Sonata he premiered in 1976. A splendid CD offers Barbosa-Lima in a wide range of repertory beginning in a "classical" vein with his very effective arrangement of Handel's Harp Concerto Op. 4 No. 6. For me, the high point of the disk is Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Capriccio Diabolico, originally written for Segovia who requested an orchestrated version which is heard here. Barbosa-Lima's own O Boto ("The Dolphin") is about a Brazilian legend of an enchanted white dolphin, a charming six-minute work orchestrated by Hawaiian master guitarist Byron Yasui, whose Piccola Arietta No. 2 is also included. The program ends with the 26-minute Concerto Antillano composed in 1983 by Puerto Rican Ernesto Cordero, a vivid work that is a major addition to the limited guitar concerto repertory. These recordings were made in Bulgaria in March 1997. Excellent sound, and highly recommended!


R.E.B. (July 2007)