SCHARWENKA: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 32. Polish Dance
in E flat minor, Op. 3 No. l. PADEREWSKI: Theme and Variations, Op. 16
No. 3. Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 17. Fantasie Polonaise in G minor,
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 4 in
G, Op. 58.
VILLA-LOBOS: Piano Concerto No. 5. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3. Garibaldi
foi a Missa. Danca do Indio Branco. GUARNIERI: Danca Brasileira. MIGNONE: Serenata
Humoristica. TAVARES: Concerto in Brazilian Forms for Piano and Orchestra
No. 2, Op. 105. ALBENIZ: Spanish Rhapsody, Op. 70. Piano Concerto No. 1,
Op. 78. CZERNY: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 214. Variations on
a Theme by Haydn, Op. 75. STAMITZ: Piano Concerto in F. VOLGER: Variations on
"Marlborough, s'en va-t-en guerra." RIES: Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor,
Op. 55. BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (transcribed by composer
for piano). Rondo in B flat, WoO6. Piano Concerto in D.
PADEREWSKI: Piano Sonata in E flat minor, Op. 21. Variations
and Fugue on an Original Theme in A minor, Op. 11. Variations
and Fugue on an Original Theme in E flat minor, Op. 23.
BRAHMS: Variations on a Hungarian Song, Op. 21 No. 2. Variations and
Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24. Variations on a Theme by
Paganini, Op. 35 (Books I and II)
Earl Wild's spectacular performances of Scharwenka's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Paderewski's Piano Concerto in A minor were released more than a decade ago on Elan (2266), welcome indeed as the RCA originals had long been discontinued. The Scharwenka was recorded in 1969, the Paderewski the following year, and the coupling was Balakirev's Fantasia on themes from Glinka's A Life for the Tsar. The Elan disk is still available and might be preferred by some collectors as it contains the two major concertos. Ivory Classics has been a bit stingy in couplings on their new issue; of course the Paderewski Fantasie Polonaise is important, but the second CD has barely more than a half-hour's playing time; they easily could have included the Balakirev and other Wild showpieces—and the Ivory Classics release is full-price.
We can be certain Lang Lang will continue to record profusely—his recordings obviously sell. This, his first venture into Beethoven, offers Concerto No. 1 and Concerto No. 4 with accompaniments by Orchestre de Paris directed by Christoph Eschenbach recorded in Salle Pleyel in Paris in January 2007. Lang Lang and Eschenbach have been close associates since 1999 and apparently have performed together frequently. These performances of two Beethoven concertos are deftly played without the mannerisms we have come to expect from Lang Lang, but will hardly be on anyone's favored list of recordings of either work. A plus is that we don't have to watch Lang Lang's gesticulations at the keyboard, a minus is sound that limits piano sonority.
Felicia Blumenthal is a name familiar to record collectors in the early
days of LPs. Born in Poland in 1908, she had an adventurous career and
was associated with many leading composers of the time including Villa-Lobos,
Szymanowski (with whom she studied), and Krzystof Penderecki who wrote
his Partita for Harpsichord and Orchestra for her (see REVIEW).She
died in Israel in 1991 and left an impressive legacy of recordings many
of which are included in this new Brama release: Beethoven including
the piano version of the violin concerto, many premiere recordings including
works of Czerny, Ries, Stamitz, Vogler. along with her early '50s monophonic
Decca recording of the delightful Concerto in Brazilian Forms, Op. 105,
with Anatole Fistoulari and the London Symphony. Also on this disk we
have works for piano and orchestra by Albeniz. No question that the most
important works in this set are those conducted by Villa-Lobos, including
the composer's Piano Concerto No. 5 which he wrote for Blumenthal, a
live performance recorded in Vienna May 25, 1955. These are important
recordings of great interest to collectors and have been very well transferred
from original sources.
Russian pianist Olga Kern (born April 23, 1975) has won many competitions, in particular the Eleventh Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in which she was Gold Medalist. She continues to impress in her latest recording, Brahms's Variations on a Hungarian Song, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, and both books of Variations on a Theme by Paganini. She plays these with the greatest of ease, and has been beautifully recorded by producer Robina G. Young and recording engineer Brad Michel at Skywalker Sound studios in California.
R.E.B. (October 2007)