SCRIABIN: Prelude Op. 37 No. 1. Prelude Op. 11 No. 16. Danse languide, Op. 51 No. 4. Guirlandes Op. 73 No. 1. Sonata No. 7, Op. 64 "White Mass." Fuillet d'album, Op. 45 No. 1. RAVEL: Valses nobles et sentimentalers. SCHUMANN: Waldszenen, Op. 82. LISZT: Dante Sonata. BACH-VIVALDI: Sicilienne. TCHAIKOVSKY-VOLODOS: Lullaby in a Storm.
Arcadi Volodos, piano
SONY CLASSICAL 68852 (2 disks) TT: 36:32 & 47:52

HAMELIN: 12 Études in all the minor keys. Little Nocturne. Five excerpts from Con intimissimo sentimento. Theme and Variations (Cathy's Variations).
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
HYPERION CDA 67789 TT: 76:10

LISZT: Fantasy and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" S. 259. Sonata in B minor, S. 178
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
BRIDGE 9337 TT: 61:20

CHOPIN: Andante spianato and grande polonaise brillante, Op. 22. Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35. Mazurkas Op. 35 Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4. Nocturnes Op. 9 Nos. 1 and 2. Nocturne No. 2 in F#, Op. 15. Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53. ´Etude Op. 10 No. 12 "Revolutionary." Trad: Cai Yun Zhur Yue ("Colorful Clouds Chasing the Rainbow").
Yundi, piano
EMI CLASSICS 31639 TT: 70:00. DVD containing entire concert and Chopin's Nocturnes Op. 27 No. 2, and Op. 48 No. 1.

BACH-TAUSIG: Toccata and Fugue in D minor. WEBER: Rondo brilliante in E flat. SCHUMANN: Paganini Etudes No. 2 in E and No. 4 in B flat. Theme and variations on the name "Abegg." CHOPIN: Impromptu No. 1 in A flat, Op. 29. Impromptu No. 2 in F sharp, Op. 36. Impromptu No. 3 in G flat, Op. 51. Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor, Op. 66. Polonaise in B flat, Op. 71 No. 2. Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53 "Heroic." STRAUSS-SCHULZ-EVLER: Concert Arabesques on "The Blue Danube." STRAUSS-GRÜNFELD: Frühlingsstimmen, Op. 410.
Grigory Ginzburg, piano
APR 5672 GTT: 78:35

Arcadi Volodos burst onto the music scene with his Sony CDs of transcriptions and Carnegie Hall concert in 1998. Since then, he has enjoyed a phenomenal career but, surprisingly, has made relatively few recordings. This Viennese concert was recorded in the Musikverein March 1, 2009 before an enthralled audience. By this time, Volodos had developed an uncommon interest in Scriabin whose music is prominently featured. His gentle performance of Schumann's Forest Scenes is a remarkable display of nuance and exquisite playing. Virtuosity abounds in the Liszt sonata, but it does seem strange there are only three encores, none of which are the fantastic showpieces one expects from this virtuoso. The concert is on two CDs that sell for the price of one. Recommended—and if you are interested in this superb pianist, check our INTERVIEW with him.

Marc-André Hamelin continues to amaze. This latest issue shows him playing his own music, the major work a collection of fantastic etudes that incorporate music of Chopin, Paganini, Scarlatti, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Alkan and others, all spectacularly played—millions of notes tossed off with the greatest of ease. Things are a bit gentler in excerpts from Con intimissimo sentimento purposefully written with less difficulty for the performer (only four of the six short pieces are included because of lack of disk space), and the CD ends with Theme and Variations composed for Hamelin's fiancée, Cathy Fuller, in the third section of which he includes a snippet of a Beethoven sonata that is one of his beloved's favorites. This is a remarkable issue, very well recorded.

More stunning Liszt can be heard on Garrick Ohlsson's powerful performances of two of the composer's mightiest works, the Fantasy and Fugue on Meyerbeer's chorale "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam," originally written for organ, heard here in Busoni's arrangement. and the magnificent Sonata in B minor. Ohlsson's numerous recordings include all of Chopin's works (appropriate, as he won the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1970), Beethoven sonatas, and a wide range of contemporary music. This Liszt recording was made in April 2009 in the Recital Hall of New York University's Performing Arts Center Recital Hall. Plenty of pianistic fireworks here, but the recorded sound is rather unresonant. It's unfortunate more music wasn't included; there was room for more.

Yundi Li also won the prestigious Chopin Competition, but thirty years after Ohlsson. His career has flourished since then (2000), and many feel he is a finer musician than Lang Lang. He is now known as Yundi. This all-Chopin concert was given in Beijing June 15, 2010 in the National Center for the Performing Arts. There is a cool proficiency in these performances, many exquisite delicate moments but Yundi's playing of the major works doesn't challenge the greatest of other recordings. Certainly Yundi is easier to watch than Lang Lang—a DVD is included that contains the entire concert plus several works that would not fit onto the CD. Audio is excellent; the video generally has the camera in the right place. I wonder why the engineers felt it was necessary to use seven microphones on stage close to the piano. The CD and DVD sell for the price of one disk.

Jewish-born Russian pianist Grigory Ginzburg (1904-1961) today is recognized as one of the most important pianists of the 20th century. He recorded profusely for Melodiya but few of his recordings remain in the catalog. This welcome disk from APR offers a wide selection of his repertory ending with two virtuoso transcriptions of Strauss waltzes tossed off with the greatest of ease. Right from the beginning of the Bach-Busoni Toccata and Fugue in D minor we are aware of something very special. Brian Crimp's knowledgeable program notes tells us much about this superb pianist. This is the label's second CD devoted to Ginzburg; Volume I is still available and offers works of a composer long associated with the pianist, Franz Liszt, as well as an astounding performance of Balakirev's Islamey (APR 5667).

R.E.B. (May 2011)