ALKAN: Symphony for Solo Piano. Concerto for Solo Piano.
Paul Wee, piano
BIS SACD 2465 TT: 78:32
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PACHELBEL: Complete Organ Works, Vol. III
Michael Belorri / Christian Schmid / James David Christie,organists
CPO 777 558 (3 dusks) TT: 189:34
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KHACHATURIAN: Piao Sonata (1961). Two Pieces (1926). Children's Album, Book I (1947). Poem (1927). Sonatina (1858(. Toccata (1932).
Iyad Sughayer, piano
BIS SACD 2436 TT: 74:46
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To call French/Jewish composer Charles -Valentin Alkam eccentric is to put it mildly. H e was a famous keyboard virtuoso, admired by Chopin and Liszt, and his recitals were special occasions. In spite of his fame, he became a recluse but continued to compose. He wrote music that challenged the technique. After his death, reportedly caused by a bookcase falling on him, his music was forgotten until the 1950s when Raymond Lewenthal made several recordings for RCA that renewed interest. Since that time many pianists have recorded his music, and this new BIS sACD offers two of his major works. In 1857, Alkan wrote a series of Twelve Studies in all Minor Keys. Etudes 4 through 7 were called his Symphony for Solo Piano, Etudes 8 through 10, the Concerto for Solo Piano. Both of these are coupled here played by young pianist Paul Wee. Born in Australia of Singaporean and Malaysian parents, he has a double career. He is a junior barrister in London .At the age of 12 he played a concerto in London's Royal Albert Hall. Here is his first recording and he is impressive. His performances do not replace earlier recordings by Marc-André Hamelin of the Concerto (REvIEW), or the Symphony (REVIEW). Recordings ere made in London's Hall One, King's Palace last year, and engineers have captured a very realistic piano sound. We look forward to future releases by Paul Wee.

The enterprising CPO label concludes their admirable series of recording of the complete organ works of Johann Pachelbel with this third volume. Three master organists are involved: Michael Belorri, Christian Schmid, and James David Christie. Performances are based on the new collection and edition of the composers known music. The order of the works on the recordings initially follows that of the chorale arrangements in the edition, which results in programs with the following thematic emphases: Passions, Psalm Settings, and Chorale Partitas. Performances were recorded 2009 - 2013 played on four historic organs dating from 1710 - 1735. CD notes provide detailed information about each organ. The multi-channel audio admirably conveys the historic sound of this music. This is a major issue for those who love early organ music. For those interested in historic organ performances this is essential.

Many years ago powerful vitriolic Chicago Tribune music critic said of a composer that he stole from Khachaturian, and that "he who steals Khachaturian steals trash." Another stupid comment by Cassidy, who dominated the Chicago music scene for many years and forced resignation of Chicago Symphony conductors Desiré Defauw, Rafael Kubelik and Jean Martinon. Khachaturian was one f the most respected Russian composers of his era, particularly for his ballets Spartacus and Gayaneh. He also loved the piano and his 1936 piano concerto brought him to international attention particularly through the RCA recording with William Kapell, Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony. Khachaturian wrote much music for solo piano and this fine new disk offers a wide selection featuring the three-movement Sonata composed in 1961. The disk ends with one of Khachaturian's virtuoso showpieces, the Toccata, which has been recorded by many major pianists. Performances are by Jordanian-Palestinian pianist Iyad Sughayer now at the beginning of his career. Obviously he has a remarkable technical expertise and he tosses off this music with ease. The recording was made in Manchester's Stoller Hall, Chetham;s School of Music December 2018. Very realistic multi-channel audio. A fine release.

R.E.B. (December 2019)


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