FRIEDRICH GULDA The Early RIAS Recordings
STENHAMMAR: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 1 (original
version). Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23.
SUESSE: Jazz Nocturne. Afternoon of a Black Faun. Scherzette "Whirligig."
Old-Fashioned. Champagne. Bacardi. Manhatten. Blue Moonlight. Berceuse.
Midnight in Gramercy Square. 110th Street Rhumba. Serenade to a Skyscraper.
Swamp-bird. Song Without Words "In Hawaiian Manner." Syncopated
Love-Song. You're the Surest Cure for the Blues (foxtrot arr. by Buechner).
Dream of a Doll. Ivory Tips. Piano Poker. Mindin' the Baby
In addition to many memorable modern recordings, the Audite label focuses on historic recordings. Already they have released important vintage recordings by Ferenc Fricsay, Igor Markevitch, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Clifford Curzon, Peter Anders and many others. For a complete listing, visit their website: AUDITE. Several of these have been mentioned on this site including the Furtwängler set (REVIEW), and their historic release of a 1952 Berlin broadcast of Porgy & Bess (REVIEW). Now they have turned their attention to Austrian pianist Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000), a legendary figure to many including Martha Argerich who studied extensively with him. This 4-disk set consists of radio recordings made between 1950 and 1959. There's nothing here that Gulda didn't previously record, but his admirers doubtless will wish to own this set. Documentation is in German and English. Each of the CDs has its own hard-cover slip, but there is no content information either on the slip or the disk.
Legendary Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995) can be heard on this new release of a performance of Schumann's concerto, a favorite of his that is available in a half-dozen live performances. This is from a concert in Paris October 1984 with Daniel Barenboim a most responsive conductor. Michelangeli recorded all of the Debussy works listed above previously, some more than once. To watch him work his keyboard wizardry, get the Opus Arte DVD of Debussy filmed in Italy in 1962 (REVIEW). Also, check out an EMI DVD of Debussy, Chopin and Scarlatti (REVIEW).
Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) was one of the country's leading pianists and later became a major composer. His music is in the Romantic style and includes two symphonies, two piano concertos, six quartets, choral works and songs. His best-known work is his Serenade composed in 1913, and there are a number of recordings including one by the Gothenburg Symphony (of which he once was conductor) conducted by Neemi Järvi. The two piano concertos are large scale, each with four movements the second of which is a sprightly scherzo. Seta Tanyel plays both spectacularly with admirable support with the Helsingborg Symphony conducted by Andrew Manze. This is a distinguished addition to Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series.
Music of British composer York Bowen (1884-1961) was relatively neglected until 1996 when Hyperion released a superb CD of his piano music played by Stephen Hough, and more recently the same label's issue of Piano Concertos 3 and 4 played by young British pianist Danny Driver (REVIEW). Now we have Driver's superb two-disk set of all of Bowen's piano sonatas, the first five written early in his career, the last in 1961, the year of his death. All are brilliant, imaginative works, often with traces of Rachmaninoff and Debussy. Driver's performances are brilliant. And the Chandos sound could not be bettered.
Pianist Sara David Buechner can be relied on for superlative performances, particularly of unusual repertory, and here she has another winner. Check out the review of music of Turina (REVIEW) which also includes information about this remarkable pianist's history. This new CD is an absolute delight, featuring music by American composer Nadine Dana Suesse, born in Kansas City in 1909. A prodigy, she studied with Alexander Siloti and began composing when very young. In New York she was fascinated by the jazz scene. She wrote songs and her Whistling in the Dark was a great hit. Bing Crosby sang My Silent Love for the 1933 film Blue Of The Night. Paul Whiteman featured her in a Carnegie Hall concert playing her own Concerto in Three Rhythms—and her music was presented by leading conductors of the time including Andre Kostelanetz, Alfred Wallenstein, Eugene Goossens and Alexander Smallens. Buechner researched music for solo piano by Suesse and here we have these fascinating pieces in vibrant performances. To fill out the disk we have four piano pieces by Pauline Alpert, a contemporary of Suesse, a composer who was respected by Gershwin and Whiteman. Alpert was a remarkable virtuoso who had a popular radio show focused on jazz. This is an engrossing CD, guaranteed to please.
R.E.B. (December 2009)