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The classical what are you listening to now ? thread.

Discussion in 'classical' started by TheDecameron, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    As sort of prep work for Lucchesini's upcoming Schubert twofer, I popped for the high res download of this disc. I had previously streamed via my phone, but proper listening yielded even better results - and results were fantastic before. The proper sound and playback gear yielded entirely more satisfying Scarlatti, with ample rhythmic swagger. And Lucchesini owns Berio's music. (Literally in the case of the pieces written for the pianist and his wife as a wedding present.) It would take someone of the stature of YES or Volodos or Anderszewski to challenge Lucchesini here.

    But the Schubert, well, that is what I really wanted. The Moments Musicaux are sublime, on par with any recordings out there. In the case of the Air russe, I am hard pressed to think of a better version. The Widmann works are better than expected, too. Lucchesini alternates between Scarlatti and Berio to start, and Schubert and Widmann to end, and some may dislike this approach, but it works fantastically well.

    Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dialogues-...ds=lucchesini&qid=1558916117&s=gateway&sr=8-1
  2. BrianPK

    BrianPK pfm Member

  3. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Igor Levit, Robin Ticciati & German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin , Live recording on R3: Robert Schumann Piano Concerto.
  4. Barrymagrec

    Barrymagrec pfm Member

  5. BrianPK

    BrianPK pfm Member

  6. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    It's been half a decade since Herbert Schuch's last solo recording. He needs to record more solo stuff.* At first glance, this disc combining Beethoven and Ligeti - which Jeremy Denk already demonstrated makes a mighty fine pairing - seems a high concept mix of Ligeti's Musica Ricercata and Beethoven's last two sets of Bagatelles. It's more than that. Schuch demonstrates again his unsurpassed ability to craft mixed rep discs.

    The disc opens with an alternating run through of Ligeti's work and Op 119, each containing eleven pieces. That's just silly. Except it ain't. One gets to hear a supreme modernist and Beethoven alternating back and forth over twenty-two pieces. Schuch pulls off three neat tricks. First, he establishes a new benchmark for the Ligeti, entirely bypassing Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Cathy Krier; he elevates the work to core rep level. Schuch lavishes attention on every little detail, sometimes generating a ravishing sound, sometimes a superbly transparent sound, and always a musically satisfying one, rendering each piece an entire entity unto itself. His superfine dynamic touch is of the highest attainable level. And his left hand ostinato in the seventh piece is simply amazing. Second, Schuch offers a supreme master class in how to transition between pieces. So deft does the transition sound from the second Ligeti piece to the second Op 119 Bagatelle to the third Ligeti piece, that one could be forgiven for thinking the pieces went together. He pulls off the same trick transitioning from the aforementioned seventh Ligeti piece to LvB and back again. Third, he makes Beethoven seem more musically modernist than Ligeti at times, though this collection is not the Hungarian's most adventurous piano composition. Still, one can appreciate how sophisticated these little Beethoven bon-bons can sound.

    The biggest trick Schuch pulls off is delivering unsurpassed Beethoven Bagatelles. All throughout, the pianist's touch is superfine, more than occasionally stupid beautiful, with nuances having nuances, and he demonstrates nearly unlimited rhythmic flexibility, some late LvB transcendence (especially in 126), and more than a modicum of impish Beethovenian humor. Here's playing that, at a minimum, demands comparisons to Alfred Brendel and Esteban Sánchez, heretofore my dynamic duo in this repertoire. This disc may force proper A/B/C comparisons. As I listened to the disc, there were many occasions where I thought silently something like "Holy Shit!", and more than a few where the utterances became real.

    This disc offers something new in my listening experience. I have listened to it pretty much once a day, every day since I purchased it. Sometimes more than once. This is not an imprint recording. This is an imprint erasing recording, establishing new standards of excellence as it goes.

    A purchase of the year, decade, and century.

    The 24/96 recorded sound is superb, though not the best I've heard.

    * He also needs to record more concertos, more chamber music, and more piano duos with his wife, as his last couple discs with her show. The guy can do no wrong.

    Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07QT8FMS7/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp

    (The link is to the MP3 download, which is the only thing available from that source. This recording absolutely must not be heard in MP3 format.)
  7. Andrewxyz

    Andrewxyz pfm Member

    I picked up a box set of the Toscanini/NBC Beethoven Symphonies (RCA 1982) in Oxfam for £7.00 the other day so working through them.
    narabdela likes this.
  8. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    I make no secret of my fondness for Ragna Schirmer's formidable artistry. She is one of the great musical artists before the public today. I await each new release with no little alacrity. When first I spied this release a few months back, with its title Madame Schumann, I assumed it would be chock full of works by Clara. As Ms Schirmer has already demonstrated on disc, she's probably the strongest proponent of the composer's music today. But no, this is a concept disc. It combines works that Clara Schumann herself performed in public during two concerts. Yes, there is one piece by Clara, some pieces by her husband, and various and sundry other items. Of special note, this disc includes solo Beethoven, in the form of Op 53.

    I'll get right to that. I really, really want to hear what Schirmer can do in a complete cycle. This recording makes me really, really, really want to. Unfailingly serious in approach, Schirmer delivers the goods. The opening is steady, fast, and quiet. The more vibrant passages are vibrant and under strict control. One could hope for more abandon, maybe, but this is supremely well controlled, and Schirmer's personal rubato and accents, especially in the last movement, reinforce, again, her ability to deliver serious music with serious ideas played in a serious way. She needs to record the rest of the sonatas. Seriously.

    The first disc is given over to collaborative efforts, with Bob's Op 47 Quartet, Clara's Op 17 Trio, a song from Fanny Mendelssohn, and a song from Bob's Myrthen. All are very well done. As usual, Schirmer chooses her collaborators wisely, and here Nora Friedrichs sings very nicely, indeed, and the trio of 30-something German hotshot instrumentalists Schirmer partners with in the other, bigger works, display world class playing. I would expect nothing less.

    The second disc, though, is where it's at. Starting with the Waldstein, and including a superb if serious Kinderszenen as the other big work, Schirmer displays mastery of mixed rep. The one weakness is the too heavy Chopin Waltz, but everything else is top notch. There's an excerpt from a Handel Suite, and Schirmer again demonstrates that she knows her Handel. The Gluck/Brahms, Scarlatti, Chopin Impromptu, and Mendelssohn Rondo Capriccioso all make me want to hear what she can with any or all of the composers, and the three Improvisations à la Clara Schumann she and Jens Schlichting put together act as marvelous transition pieces.

    Ms Schirmer simply must record more. Right now.

    I went the 24/48 download route, and as per usual, Berlin Classics delivers some of the best sound in the business.

    Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clara-Schu...agna+schirmer&qid=1559512781&s=gateway&sr=8-2
  9. BrianPK

    BrianPK pfm Member

  10. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    A stupendously good account of Bruckner's 4th by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Jaap Van Zweden. Superb rich Dsd sound too.

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  11. windhoek

    windhoek The Phoolosopher

    Mahler as re-imagined by Uri Caine in Primal Light - bonkers but brilliant :)

    marshanp and TheDecameron like this.
  12. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Bruckner 5: Wand; NDR Symphony Orchestra.
  13. BrianPK

    BrianPK pfm Member

    Wonderful music and excellent recording quality.Remarkable that a 13/14 year old could compose music of such a standard.
    I once read that the teenage Mendelssohn was arguably a greater genius than Mozart at a similar age but that on reaching maturity, good as he was, he failed to soar to the heights that the other greats reached.


  14. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    Bartok: Mikrocosmos. Zoltan Coscis on piano.
  15. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

  16. BrianPK

    BrianPK pfm Member

    After listening to Mendelssohn for the past few days I automatically reached for Schubert because so often in my past their symphonies were often coupled in lps and cds.
    However,beautiful as they are,I achieved very little satisfaction with his symphonies this evening.I suppose I played them to death in my younger days.



    Needing an immediate musical fix,I spied Handel amongst my pile of cds on the table and got an instant boost from this excellent performance and recording.

  17. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Italie. More anti-virtuosic, Kempffian magic occasionally displaying ample technical swagger. The recording opens with the first Legende, and Piemontesi's delicate touch mesmerizes, though the recording deceives. Close with added reverb, one turns up the volume without taking into account what happens when the pianist turns up the wick. As luck would have it, the sound quality is such that, and Piemontesi's tone is such that, the listener not only doesn't mind the almost oppressive volume, but welcomes it, especially with such rich lower registers. Piemontesi's fingers glide along the keyboard most of the time, creating an almost hypnotic effect. And then comes the main attraction. Each of the seven pieces of the second year are almost perfectly characterized. (Do note the number of pieces; Venezia e Napoli is not included. <Insert sad face emoji>) Sposalizio borders on the too magnificent, Il penseroso on the too serious. Borders, mind you, borders. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa maintains nearly ridiculous levels of beauty and a dandy rhythmic sense, but not to the point where rhythm dominates. The three Petrarch Sonnets sound lovely, and Piemontesi shows that he can go gorgeous, delicate, and nuanced as well as just about anyone, including Julian Gorus. The relative weak link is the Dante Sonata, which does not become as super-heated as some other versions. Of course, it does not need to, so that's not so much a knock as a statement. Maybe it prevents the recording from being a 10. Six nines ain't shabby.

    SOTA sound for the now complete 24/96 download tracks. (The initial release truncated the last two tracks.)

    I demand the supplement and Year Three, dammit!

    Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liszt-Pele...montesi+liszt&qid=1560098494&s=gateway&sr=8-4
    narabdela likes this.
  18. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    Poulenc's hugely entertaining concerto for 2 pianos
    Given that the disc costs £40 on amazon but only £11 for the flac download from Presto, I've linked to Presto above!

    Its a marvellous homage to Mozart, Ravel and Javanese Gamelan music. I'd never heard any of it before R3's building a library on it a few weeks ago. The single piano concerto is pretty good too.
  19. marshanp

    marshanp pfm Member

    Lars-Erik Larsson's Second Symphony (much the best of his three) in an altogether splendid performance by the Helsingborg SO conducted by Andrew Manze on CPO.

    Manze really impresses me as a conductor of sweepingly Romantic music like this. Who'd have thought it, what with his background of Baroque noodling?

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 10:50 AM
  20. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    The Hyperion download of Leslie Howard's 'Complete Music for Solo Piano' by Liszt: Volume 21 Soirees musicales

    If you love classical piano but occasionally want something more frivolous than Schubert or LvB, this is currently a refreshing bargain at £10 for 30 allsorts. Bound to raise a smile.

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