HAYDN: Sonata No. 62 in E Flat. BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 21 in C, Op. 53 "Waldstein." Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight."
Vladimir Horowitz, piano
RCA RED SEAL 54605 TT: 50:19
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MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, K. 271 (with Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Sir Charles Mackerras, cond.). Piano Sonata No. 9 in F, K. 533/494. HAYDN: Variations in F minor. BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 13 in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1. Bagatelle iin A, Op. 33 No. 4. SCHUBERT: Sonata in B flat, D. 960. Impromptu in G flat, DS 899 No. 3. BACH: Chorale Prelude Nun komm' der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659
Alfred Brendel, piano
DECCA 478 2118 (2 disks) TT: 71:21 & 69:48
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BACH: French Suite No. 5 in G, BWV 816. LASSER: Twelve Variations on a Chorale by J. S. Bach. BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111. BACH: Variation 13 from Goldberg Variations.
Simone Dinnerstein, piano
TELARC CD 80715 TT: 74:37
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SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen, Op. 15. LISZT: Sonata in B minor. PROKOFIEV: Sonata No. 7 in B flat, Op. 83. LIADOV: The Musical Snuff Box, OP. 32. SCRIABIN: Etude in D sharp minor, Op. 8 No. 12. GRIEG-GINZBURG: In the Hall of the Mountain King.
Denis Matsuev, piano
RCA RED SEAL 88697291462 TT: 78:35
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Collectors will welcome this third issue in Sony Music's Vladimir Horowitz Private Collection Series. It contains live Carnegie Hall performances of music by Haydn and Beethoven all of which the Russian pianist recorded previously. Haydn's Sonata No. 62 was recorded for EMI in 1932; it here is given a scintillating performance with with a remarkable range of tone. The two Beethoven sonatas are tossed off with stunning virtuosity and dazzling technique. Not the kind of Beethoven preferred by most listeners, but exciting indeed.

Distinguished pianist Alfred Brendel gave his final concerts in December 2008 in Vienna's Musikverein playing two performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9; the December 18 concert is heard in Decca's new 2-CD set entitled "The Farewell Concerts." Born in Czechoslovakia, he was 77 at the time and still in command of the rather modest technical demands of the chosen music. These are exquisite performances in every way, the solo works from his final concert in Hanover December 14, 2008. This is a distinguished final recording from a pianist whose career approached six decades. Decca's engineers have done an excellent job in capturing Brendel's warm tone.

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein created a buzz in the musical world with her interpretation of Bach's Goldberg Variations three years ago, and has continued to solidify her place on the current concert scene. This Telarc disk offers her first solo performance in Berlin recorded November 22, 2007, beginning and ending with Bach (the Goldberg variation is played as an encore), Beethoven's Sonata No. 32, and American composer Philip Lasser's fascinating Twelve Variations on a Bach Chorale. The performances are superb in every way, as is Telarc's audio. Dinnerstein is a remarkable artist and person. Recently when she was in Baltimore to play Mozart's Concerto No. 23 with the BSO, she gave a concert for inmates in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women that apparently was very meaningful for the 46 who listened attentively to a program of Schubert and Bach. This was the first time a classical concert had been given in the venue and none of the inmates had ever attended a concert. . Dinnerstein spoke informally about the music before she played it, and remained after the concert to talk with inmates. These outreach programs are important for Dinnerstein—she has played many of them since the first, in 2002 at the Louisiana State prison.

Born in 1975, Russian pianist Denis Matsuev won first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998. His career has prospered in a somewhat quiet way, and he is respected by major conductors. Matsuev has made relatively few recordings, but all are of merit. He now records exclusively for RCA, and this new CD supposedly is his first live solo concert recording, although on the internet one can find a listing for a recital recorded in Paris in 2000. On this concert, recorded in Carnegie Hall November 17, 2007, he begins with a sensitive performance of Kinderscenen followed by the Liszt sonata which, in spite of its 31:38 playing time, fails to capture the majesty of the score. Matsuev 's performance of Prokofiev's mighty Sonata No. 7 is among the best you'll hear. Encores are an overly precious performance of Liadov's Musical Snuff Box, Scriabin's D-sharp minor Etude, and the wrist-breaking Grigory Ginzburg transcription of Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. Producer Phillip Nedel and engineer Michael Brammann have produced very realistic piano sound; it is unfortunate there is only one track for the Liszt sonata.

R.E.B. (January 2010)