SATIE: The Complete Solo Piaio Music
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piaio
DECCA 483 0236 (6 disks) TT: 79:57 / 80:00 / 73:14 / 76:36 / 72:45 / 63:30
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MOZART: Sonata No 18 in D, K. 576. BEETHOVEN: Sonata No 7 in D, Op. 10 No. 3. PROKOFIEV: Toccata Op. 11. Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28. Sonata No. 7 in B flat, Op. 83. RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit. Sonatine.
Martha Argerich, piano
DGG 00289 479 5978 (2 disks) TT: 36:00 / 54:50
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BRAHMS: Botsschaft. Wie bist du, meine Königin. (Matthew Polenzani). An eine Äolsharfe. Feldeinsamkeit. Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer. (Magdalena Kozená). Das Mädchen spricht. Wir Wandelten. Unbewegte laue Luft. (Amdrea Rost). 5 Lieder, Op. 94. Thomas Qiasthoff. 18 Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52.15 Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 65.
Andrea Rost. Magdalena Kozená. Matthew Polenzani. Thomas Quasthoff. James Levine/Yefim Bromfman, piano
DGG 002784796044 TT: 81:15
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SCOTT WHEELER: Portraits and Tributes (27 piano pieces)
Donald Berman, piano
BRIDGE CD 0463 TT: 71:24
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BACH: Cello Suite No. 1 (arr. electric guitar)
Sam Russell, electric gjuitar
SAM RUSSELL CD TT: 19:04
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Eric Alfred Lasalle Satie (1866 - 1925) was a true eccentric, a major figure in the French avant-garde scene in the early 20th Century. In 1887, he referred to humself as a "gymnopedist" referring to his famous Gymnopédies, his most famour work. He obviously had an incredible sense of humor, and was a favorite of The Theatre of the Absurd. In spite of his fame, his life ended tragically as he became a total alcholic living a bizarre loney life, a sad end to the career of a composer who had a strong influence on the next generation of composers including Debussy and Ravel. He wrote prolifically for solo piano, and his sense of humor is obviously from the titles of many of his works including Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear. There have been many recordings of Satie's piano music, but here we have a set of all of his works including a number of very brief snippets. All os this sensitively played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet. For most collectors, it would have been helpful if the listings for each work were listed in English as wel as French. Superb audio; this is a mid-price issue.

The leghion of admirers of Martha Argerich will welcome this new DGG issue of her earliest recordings. The Mozart sonata was recorded in Saal 2, WDR Köln,January 23, 1960. The Beethoven is from the same venue September 8, 1960. The Prokofiev Toccata and, Sonata No. 3 and Ravel were recorded in Rolf Liebermann Studio,NDR, Hamburg, March 16, 1960; Prokofiev's Sonata No 7 was recorded at WDR Köln October 31, 1967.Dazzling, virtuoso performances all, with Argerich at the beginning of her incredible career. She recorded most of this music later, but surely collectors will wish to own these early gems. This is a full-price set, and playing time is quite limited.

It was a special evening at the Verbier Festival July 30, 2003. when a concert featured four leading singers of the time accompanied by James Levine and Yefim Bronfman in a Brahms concert. Each of the artists sings a group of lieder, and they all join forces for a remarkable performance of Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52 and Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 65. Audio quality is excellent; perhaps the reason why it took 13 years to release it is because producers were waiting for technology that would permit them to get 81:15 on a singe disk with 47 tracks. Complete texts and translations are provided.

In February 2009 this site mentioned a recording of American composer Scott Wheeler's opera The Construction of Boston. (REVIEW). Wheeler, born in Washington, DC in 1952, is a major figure in today's musical scene receiving numerous awards and prizes.Over the years he has been recognized as a composer, educator and administrator, associated with many major musical institutions. Like his teacher and friend Virgil Thomson, Wheeler wrote countless brief musical portraits often dedicated to friends. These "portraits" create a sort of musical autobiography or self portrait ranging over the years 1977 - 2014, and often track his biography associated with many people from his life - teachers, family members, lovers and others. Wheeler obviously has a sense of humor. There are 27 brief pieces on this charming CD; some of the titles are Alphabet Dance, Cowley Meditation, Calamity Rag Firefly Lullaby Cookie Waltz and Gallop.Donald Berman tosses off these delightful miniatures with the greatest of ease. There is a documentary film about the making of this recording on I Tunes: Portraits: The Piano Music of Scott Wheeler. Previously in this column a new recording of Erik Satie's piano music was mentioned; this Wheeler CD might be considered a 21st Century version of the same.

Sam Russell is well-known in the pop and heavy metal world as a master of the electric guitar. He now turns his attention to the classics and has transcribed a number of works for his instrument. This disk, produced on his own label, is an example, Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. Bach's music has been performed on various instruments, including an entire CD featuring Mika Väyryunen playing his arrangements for accordion (EVIEW). It is difficult to understand why only the Cello Suite No. 1 is on this CD. Playing time is less than 20 minutes. If this approach to Bach iuntrigues you, visit the artist's web site: www.SamRussell.co.uk. You also can view him on YouTube

R.E.B. (June 2016)