MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414. Piano Concerto No. 23
in A, K. 486. Concerto No. 7 in F for Three Pianos arr. for Two Pianos
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto "No. 5" (arr. by Alexander
Warenberg from Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27)
NAZARETH: Vem cé, Branquinha. GOTTSCHALK: Suis
Moi! Caprice. PIAZZOLA:
Flora's Game. GINASTERA: Piano Sonata Nol. 1. VILLA-LOBOS: Chorus No.
5 "Alma Breasileira." BEACH: Fire-flies, Op. 15 No. 4. BONDS:
Troubled Water. BOLCOM: Nine New Bagatelles. BARBER: Piano Sonata, Op.
BOWEN: Ballade No. 2, Op. 87. Three Songs without Words, Op.
94. From Three Preludes, Op. 81. Short Sonata, Op. 35 No. 1. Three
Op. 44. Three Serious Dances, Op. 51. Toccata, Op. 155. Three Pieces, Op.
BEETHOVEN: THE CONCERTOS
Here are six intriguing releases for the pianophile. Any new
recording by legendary Leon Fleisher is welcome and here we have his
remarkable performances of three Mozart concertos in which he is both
soloist and conductor recorded July 16-19, 2008 in Stuttgart's Conservatory.
Based on these loving,
executed performances, one would never suspect since 1965 Fleisher
had problems with his right hand—which now are fortunately resolved.
During his earlier association with George Szell and the Cleveland
Orchestra Fleisher recorded a magnificent performance of Mozart's Concerto
No. 25. Fleisher has been playing the less demanding Concerto No.
12 for some years now, but Concerto No.
(he played it many years ago including a live performance with Bruno
Walter in Los Angeles 1965, available on CD). New to his repertory
is K. 242 in which he is ably joined by his wife, Kathleen Jacobson
Fleisher, who has appeared with him many times in concerts. This is
a wonderful addition to Fleisher's discography.
I approached this issue of Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 5" with trepidation. This project was brought to fruition by Pieter van Winkel who loves the composer's Symphony No. 2 and felt it should be adapted for piano and orchestra. Winkel asked pianist Alexander Warenberg, whose solo career was halted by an injury, to convert the symphony into a concerto—and it worked quite successfully! Warenberg turned the four movements into three, generally following the composer's style, and made some imaginative changes in orchestration. As you listen to this you will often be reminded of Concerto No. 3. Everything has been admirably adapted, and the "Rachmaninoff style" is always apparent. To me, the only weakness is the very beginning of the work: the first 90 seconds is the actual opening of the symphony. How much more effective it would have been if the piano played soft low chords to accompany this opening. However, this is a grand-scale conception and it is beautifully played by pianist Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy with strong accompaniment from the Janácek Orchestra and conductor Theodore Kuchar. Audio quality is excellent, with the piano nicely balanced with the orchestra. An intriguing issue, indeed, and one I will return to often.
Young pianist Joel Fan, who studied with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory, is at the beginning of what already is a major career. He is a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, and has been acclaimed for his virtuoso playing of a wide variety of repertory. West of the Sun, his second disk for Reference Recordings, offers nine works by nine different composers of North and South America, ranging from miniatures by Beach and Gottschalk to sonatas by Barber and Ginastera. Stylish, vivid performances, beautifully recorded in quality audio we have come to expect from the label.
Young Dutch pianist Joop Celis is recording solo piano works of British composer York Bowen (1884-1961); this is the third disk in the series. Celis specializes in this composer's music, has given many concert performances of it, written essays and given lectures about it. Included are six premiere recordings as well as the dazzling Toccata edited by Stephen Hough from the autograph score (Hough has a Hyperion CD devoted exclusively to Bowen's music). This site recently mentioned an extraordinary Hyperion CD of Bowen's Piano Concertos 3 and 4 (REVIEW). This new Chandos issue is welcome indeed, unjustly neglected music by a fascinating British composer. As usual with Chandos, audio quality is first-rate.
Again we are indebted to Bearac Reissues for reissuing many major recordings of the past, in splendid transfers. The Beethoven concertos always played an important part in Rudolf Serkin's career; he made his American debut February 23, 1936 playing Concerto No. 4 with Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic and in 1944 played it again with the same conductor and the NBC Symphony (both available on Guild). There are many other commercial and live Serkin performances of the concertos including live1977 recordings of all five with the Bavarian Radio Symphony directed by Rafael Kubelik, and his last recording of the complete set, in 1982, with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony (Telarc). Now, thanks to Bearac we have Serkin's first commercial recordings made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. To say these are lively performances is to put it mildly. The pianist was in his prime, and the accompaniments could not be bettered. Zino Francescatti also is captured relatively early in his career in the violin concerto. Another plus is inclusion of the Triple Concerto with three distinguised soloists conducted by Bruno Walter. Bearac has used "a custom process called MSE (Mono Spatial Enhancement)" that provides a highly successful updating of the original monophonic sound. This set is invaluable for collectors, and thank you, once again, BEARAC REISSUES.
R.E.B. (April 2009)