The Complete Piano Sonatas, 32 in all, done by Vladimir Ashkenazy. He is recognized as one of the world's best pianist and this set confirms that.
Even though Vladimir Ashkenazy is most often celebrated for his brilliantly virtuosic interpretations of Romantic repertoire, his skills in playing works of the Classical era are just as worthy, as proved by this 10-disc set from London of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's piano concertos. These performances span a period from 1966 to 1988, capturing a youthful and vigorous Ashkenazy playing and conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard, in approved Mozartian fashion. All of the keyboard concertos are here, including the official 27 concertos for piano and orchestra, the Concerto for two pianos in E flat major, K. 365, the Concerto for three pianos in F major, K. 242, as well as the two Rondos K. 382 and K. 386. Ashkenazy's elegant playing has been highly praised by critics and placed on a level with his esteemed contemporaries Murray Perahia, Daniel Barenboim, and Alfred Brendel, all past masters of Mozart's primary medium of expression.
This is the fifth volume of Angela Hewitt’s cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and she is recording a full set of Mozart’s concertos too; and yet she is still probably best known for her Bach. So perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s when Beethoven slips into Bach-style fugues in the final movement of Op 110 that Hewitt sounds most masterful. Elsewhere she is incisive and thoughtful too, even if the two earliest works here, Op 2 no 2 and Op 10 no 1, demand a certain lightness of touch that they don’t quite get – the flurries and flourishes sound like collections of notes rather than single, self-propelling gestures. The second movement of Op 78 is a deft dialogue of question and answer, and Hewitt brings an inevitability to Op 110 that makes sense of its changes of direction even if she doesn’t obviously revel in the full extent and novelty of its inspiration.
The notion of making a concept record seems antithetic to the standard operating procedure of Glen Johnson's Piano Magic, a collective who relies on revolving-door collaborations to materialize oft-scatterbrained pop experimentalism. When you think about it, staunchly adhering to that loose-natured principle can be as limiting as painting yourself into a corner. So ha – here it is, a concept record from Piano Magic based on the first World War that whittles the number of instrumentalists down to six, opposed to the This Mortal Coil- or P-Funk All-Stars-like tally involved on prior records. Musically taught, conceptually focused, and a lot more open to interpretation than the memorial-depicting artwork implies, Artists' Rifles is Piano Magic at their most solemn and lulling, splitting what seems to be communication between a soldier and his lover (vocals are shared between Johnson and Caroline Potter), with a handful of brief instrumentals.
Deutsche Grammophon, home to the greatest pianists, presents a collection of the most essential piano masterworks – a collection of the most beautiful, exciting and moving pieces for piano; presenting the world’s best composers, popular works, and outstanding performances from Deutsche Grammophon’s unrivalled roster of pianists: from the greats – Horowitz, Gilels, Richter, Argerich – to the younger generation: Seong-Jin Cho, Alice Sara Ott, Vikingur Ólafsson, Hélène Grimaud, Yuja Wang. Also represented are the new faces of composition – Max Richter and Ludovico Einaudi.
“Nobody plays this music more authoritatively and eloquently,” wrote London’s Sunday Times of Stephen Kovacevich in Beethoven. “He is in his element, responding wholeheartedly to the extreme physicality that Beethoven brought to music … but the wit and delicacy of the playing are also remarkable.”Kovacevich himself has spoken of his love for the “fun and virtuosity” of the composer’s early sonatas, while in the often