STUCKY: Four Album Leaves. Three Little Varitions for David. LUTOSLAWSKI: Sonata for Piano. SALONEN: Yta. Three Preludes. Dichotomi
Gloria Cheng, pianist
TELARC CD 80712 (F) TT: 71:35
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GODOWSKY: Symphonic Metamorphoses on Johann Strauss II's Künstlerleben, Die Fledermaus and Wein, Weib und Gesang. Excerpts from Walzermasken. Excerpts from Triakontameron. OSCAR STRAUSS:The Last Waltz.
Marc-André Hamelin, pianist
HYPERION CDA 67626 (F) TT: 69:09
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GOLTZ: Complete works for solo piano: Scherzo in E minor. 24 Preludes, Op. 2. CHOPIN: Nocturne in F, Op. 15 No. 1. Waltz in B minor, Op. 69 No. 2. Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27 No. 2. Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53.
Sergei Podobedov, pianist
MUSIC & ARTS CD 1210 TT: 55:00
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BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata." BRAHMS: Intermezzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 117. SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op. 9. CHOPIN: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. Etude in E minor, Op. 25 No. 5. LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C-sharp minor. VILLA-LOBOS: O polichinelo from A prole do bebe
Arthur Rubinstein, pianist
MEDICI ARTS CD MM029 TT: 80:45
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Nutcracker Suite (with Mirabela Dina). RACHMANINOFF: Suite No. 2, Op. 17 (with Gabriela Montero). Six Morceaux, Op. 11 (with Lilya Zilberstein). BRAHMS: Sonata in F minor, Op. 34a (with Lilya Zilberstein). Variations on a theme by Haydn (with Polina Leschenko). PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 1 in D "Classical." (with Yefim Bronfman). LUTOSLAWSKI: Variations on a Theme by Paganini (with Giuorgia Tomassi).
Martha Argerich, pianist
EMI CLASSICS 67232 (2 disks) TT: 69:41 & 76:38
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Here are five fascinating piano recordings. Gloria Cheng already has to her credit more than a dozen fine recordings, mostly of contemporary music in which she specializes. This Telarc disk offers stunning, brilliant performances of works by Stucky, Lutoslawski, and three by her close friend Esa-Pekka Salonen: Dichotomie, Three Preludes and Yta. All of the music on this CD is engaging listening—no plink, plank, plunk here. This is a scintillating 71 minute program, and Telarc's engineering is of their usual high quality. Marc-André Hamelin already has recorded a number of works of Leopold Godowsky including the complete studies on Chopin etudes (REVIEW) and the massive E-minor sonata. Now we have a collection primarily of waltz transcriptions ending with a rarity, Oscar Strauss's The Last Waltz. Hamelin, of course, tosses all of these off with the great of ease, but I find no matter how well played, these arrangements often are repetitious and a little goes a long way. If the repertory interests you, you will not find it presented better elsewhere.

Don't overlook Music & Arts CD devoted to music of music of the tragically short-lived Boris Goltz (1913-1942). Goltz studied at the Leningrad Conservatory, joining the army when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941 and died during the siege of Leningrad. Here we have the 24 Preludes written when he was at the Conservatory. Most of these are miniatures, and all easily could have been composed by Rachmaninoff, an indication of their merit. This CD begins with a charming Scherzo, another of the few surviving works of Goltz. It would be fascinating to hear his piano concerto should they ever find the score. Russian-born pianist Sergei Prodobedov, who now lives in California, recorded these works in Moscow last year and plays these treasures with total assurance. The four Chopin pieces seem an inappropriate companion for the Goltz, and even with these, playing time of this CD is only 55 minutes. Still, this is well worth your attention just to hear the Goltz preludes that easily could become concert favorites.

The Arthur Rubinstein program was recorded in a concert in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, April 20, 1963. The pianist was 76 at the time, and would return to Holland ten years later to film concertos of Beethoven and Brahms with Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra (REVIEW). Rubinstein's playing on both occasions is in the grand style, technically assured, beautiful in tone—and very well recorded. It's a pleasure to hear him briefly announce his encore, Villa-Lobos' O polichinelo which he then plays with incredible virtuosity.The composer was a friend of his, and Rubinstein gave the premiere of this in 1922. This is an essential CD for collectors.

The Martha Argerich collection brings together a number of live concert recordings of music for two pianos made during the Lugano Festival in 2002 and 2004. She is heard with six other pianists in repertory that obviously is close to her—in all cases she has recorded this music with other pianists. These fine performances have been issued previously, and now we have them at a reduced price on two well-filled disks.

R.E.B. (October 2008)