LUTOSLAWSKI: Piano Concerto. Su,[jpmu Mp/ 2/
Krystian Zimmermann, piano. Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Sir Simon Rattle, cond.
DGG 479 4518 TT: 52:22

RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op. 22. Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42. TRIFONOV: Rachmanianan
Danil Trifonov, piano. Philadelphia Orch/ Yannick Nézet Séguin, cond.
DGG 479 4790 TT: 79:36

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 73
Daniel Barenboim, piano. Berlin Staatskapelle/Gustavo Dudamel, cond.
DGG 479 4899 (2 disks) TT: 51:12 / 50:58

SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23/ Etude in C sharp mionor, Op. 2 No. 1. Prelude for Left Hand, Op. 9 No. 1. MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition. Night on the Barte Mountain.
Alessio Bax. piano
SIGNUM CD 426 TT: 66:16

This recording of Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto is stunning and definitive. The composer wrote it for Zimmermann in 1988 who played the premiere at Salzburg that year. In 1992, he recorded it for DGG with the composer and the BBC Symphony. The concerto is a dazzling showpiece for both soloist and orchestra, brilliantly played here and the detailed recording captures all of the complex interplay between soloist and ensemble. Symphony No. 2 was written in 1965, a two-movement work emphasizing dissonance, ending quietly and mysteriously. Rattle and the superb Berlin Philharmonic offer a magnificent performance. All these are live recordings made in Berlin's Philharmonie in October 2013, there is no trace whatever of an audience, and no applause. This is a major release.

This site recently praised Daniel Trifonov's spectacular performance of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Gergiev conducting, available on DVD (REVIEW). Now this remarkable young Russian pianist turns to Rachmaninoff with this disk featuring the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the composer's Chopin and Corelli variations, and five brief works by the pianist which he labels Rachmanian. These surely do have the Rachmaninoff sound. The major work is the Paganini Rhapsody, given a spectacular and sometimes whimsical reading with plenty of virtuoso display. Trifiinov is fortunate to have the Philadelphia Orchestra under their dynamic conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This orchestra gave the world premieres of this work, rather oddly in Baltimore, with the composer as soloist and Leopold Stokowski on the podium. Decca's engineers have done their usual excerpt job. This is a first-class recording in every way.

Daniel Barenboim is an old hand at the Brahms piano concertos. He has recorded both numerous times,. 1 either on CD or DVD. Concerto No. 1 1 is available with conductors Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Simon Rattle. Celibidache and Zubin Mehta: Barenboim recorded Concerto No. 2 withBarbirolli;. Celibidache and Kubelik. Now we have his latest version, live performances with the Berlin Staatskapelle conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Both concertos are from concerst recorded in Berlin's Philharmonie September 1 - 3, 2014. Of course the performances are masterful, emphasizing the lyric side of both works. , and the audience's enthusiastic reception if included. Stereo sound is excellent, but there are dozens of competing versions. A plus is that the two disks sell for the price of one.

Italian pianist Alessio Bax (b. 1977) has built a distinguished career after winning a number of prestigious awards. He has already appeared with a number of major orchestras, and has made a few recordings, some with his wife, pianist Lucille Chung. Now he has signed with Decca, and this first disk is mightily impressive, opening with music of Scriabin (two short works and the Sonata No. 3) and continuing with Mussorgsky His imaginative performance of Pictures at an Exhibition surely is among the finest available. The program concludes with Night on the Bare Mountain, a reading that is remarkable in its sonorities, perhaps with the hellp of Decca's fine engineers. I look forward to future releases by this superb pianist.

R.E.B. (September 2015)