Presto News - 2nd September 2013
Piers Lane Goes To Town: Piano encores and lollipops
A pot pourri of pianistic palate-cleansers and party pieces for you this week, as Piers Lane goes to town and presents his personal selection of favourite twentieth-century recital encores.
It’s a fairly eclectic mix, including arrangements of familiar works (such as Dame Myra Hess’s transcription of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring) as well as original pieces, some of which were written especially for Lane. I had wondered in advance whether an entire disc of piano encores would become slightly tiring to listen to in one sitting, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised, as there was just the right balance between the flashy pieces and the slower, more contemplative numbers to keep me entertained all the way through.
There’s certainly no shortage of impressive virtuosity, including perhaps the best-known item on the disc, Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba, which is despatched with great aplomb and panache by Lane. Amongst the more obscure pieces on offer is Zez Confrey’s aptly-named Dizzy Fingers, which is an extremely jolly two-minute composition showing off Lane’s dazzling fingerwork. Speaking of jolly music, there were two pieces that had me beaming with delight: an arrangement by Ernö Dohnányi of Delibes’s Naila Waltz, and possibly the most jovial of them all, Billy Mayerl’s Marigold. Both are effortlessly and delicately performed by Lane, and he makes them sound so easy that I kept forgetting how difficult they actually are to bring off successfully.
By far the most substantial work on the disc is the set of Variations on a well-known theme, written in 1976 for a BBC television programme by the English composer and author, Antony Hopkins. Intended to demonstrate the styles of various composers, it does exactly what its name suggests: it presents several variations on a theme written in the style of, amongst others, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt. It’s great fun, and quite enjoyable to play “Spot the Composer”. I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing the identity of the well-known theme in question, but it becomes fairly obvious pretty early on, and I’m sure it will bring a smile of recognition to your face when the penny drops!
One of the highlights for me has to be the piece by Dudley Moore entitled Beethoven Parody ‘And the same to you’. Moore was one of the quartet (along with Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, and Jonathan Miller) behind the satirical revue, Beyond the Fringe, for which he wrote a series of musical parodies, including spoofs of Schubert, Kurt Weill, and Britten. One of the parodies was that of a Beethoven piano sonata, using Colonel Bogey as its main theme, and if you know your Beethoven sonatas then you’ll be amused by the clever nods to, amongst others, the Appassionata, Pathétique, and even the fugal section of the op. 110 sonata, and it takes to a humorous extreme Beethoven’s occasional indulgence in false endings and seemingly endless perfect cadences. Its inclusion on the disc is very welcome, and is a fantastic reminder of Moore’s skills as a musician and comedian as well as another perfect demonstration of Lane’s virtuosity.
This is followed by a moving performance of Percy Grainger’s arrangement of an Irish Tune from County Derry (otherwise known as the Londonderry Air, or Danny Boy). It’s very affectingly played, and is a testament to the thought and care that Lane has clearly taken in choosing the music for this disc that he ends with this piece rather than one of the flashier numbers; it’s a lovely coda after the high jinks of Dudley Moore, and is a beautiful way to end this delightful recital.
Piers Lane goes to town
Piers Lane (piano)
Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2013 - up to 30% off
This year there are 11 categories and the winning discs in those categories have now been announced. The overall Record of the Year and other special awards will be announced at the ceremony on September 17th 2013.
However, we decided not to wait until then, and have secured very special prices on the category winners now. With discounts of up to 30% off this is a great time to pick up some of the best discs of the past 12 months, and decide for yourself which one you think should be crowned the overall Disc of the Year. You can view the list of all category winners here.
James Longstaffe - email@example.com
2nd September 2013
Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 & Stabat Mater
Toby Spence (tenor), Denis Matsuev (piano), Sally Matthews (soprano), Ekaterina Gubanova (mezzo), Kostas Smoriginas (baritone), London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
This second instalment of Gergiev’s Szymanowski cycle features Toby Spence as soloist in the Third Symphony, and pianist, Denis Matsuev in the virtuosic Symphony No. 4 (Symphonie concertante). Szymanowski’s deeply personal Stabat Mater completes the cycle and stars Sally Matthews, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Kostas Smoriginas.
Donizetti: Caterina Cornaro
Carmen Giannattasio (Caterina Cornaro), Colin Lee (Gerardo), Troy Cook (Lusignano), Graeme Broadbent (Andrea Cornaro), Sophie Bevan (Matilde), BBC Symphony Orchestra, David Parry
Caterina Cornaro was written in the extremely productive last period of Donizetti's life and is one of his most deeply felt, atmospheric and dramatically truthful scores. Conductor David Parry says: "The opera requires a prima donna with a wonderful voice, extraordinary technique and exceptional histrionic ability, which we have in Carmen Giannattasio: the role could actually have been written for her."
Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 'Tragic'
Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado
In his first recording for Harmonia Mundi, Pablo Heras-Casado gives us two of Schubert's six symphonies performed with Freiburger Barockorchester. The carefree Third of 1815 ends with a Rossinian tarantella whilst the darker Fourth (1816) looks more towards Beethoven. The subtitle 'Tragic' came from the 19-year-old composer himself.
Medtner: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 3
Chloë Hanslip (violin) & Igor Tchetuev (piano)
The great composer of piano music Nikolai Medtner also wrote three violin sonatas, two of which are recorded here. The Sonata Epica is, as its title suggests, one of the most ambitious and colossal works in the repertoire, and without doubt one of the most important violin sonatas of the twentieth century. The Sonata No. 1 is more understated and reminiscent of Fauré.
Vivaldi: Catone in Utica
Topi Lehtipuu (Catone), Roberta Mameli (Cesare), Ann Hallenberg (Emilia), Sonia Prina (Marzia), Romina Basso (Fulvio), Emoke Baráth (Arbace), Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis
Catone in Utica is one of the Venetian master’s great late operas, composed four years before his death and premiered at Verona in the spring of 1737. The autograph score contains only Acts II and III of the opera. The eleven surviving arias are products of his high maturity in which he continues his brilliant endeavour to combine his musical language with that of the Neapolitan composers.
Elgar: Cello Concerto
Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek
French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras performs two cornerstones of the cello repertoire: Elgar's Cello Concerto, and Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, ably supported by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under their conductor laureate, Jiří Bělohlávek. Also included on the disc are two pieces for cello and orchestra by Antonín Dvořák.
Special Boxed Sets imported from Korea
Various artists including: Janos Starker (cello), Johanna Martzy (violin), Georg Solti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Hermann Scherchen (conductors)
We've managed to source a limited number of special historical boxed sets from the archives of EMI, Decca, Mercury Living Presence, RCA and others, many of which are not otherwise available and/or contain material which has never been previously released on CD. Click here to see a list of the available sets.
Mozart: Requiem in D minor, K626 (DVD)
Anna Prohaska (soprano), Sara Mingardo (alto), Maximilian Schmitt (tenor), René Pape (bass), Bavarian Radio Choir & Swedish Radio Choir, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado
"In Abbado’s hand, the baton could become a guide to the mysterious, sublime, consoling legacy of Mozart." (Deutschlandradio Kultur). Together with a first-class quartet of soloists, the choirs of the Bavarian and Swedish radios and the distinguished musicians of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado uncovers the more hopeful and forgiving essence of the Requiem.
Blu-ray version also available here.
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