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Piano solo - Verschenen op 6 december 2019 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 1 november 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Diapason d'or
Charles-Valentin Alkan made his name as pianist in nineteenth-century Paris and seemed poised for a glittering career. But following a series of setbacks he withdrew into a life of relative seclusion, and as he receded from the public eye, so too did his music. It was never entirely forgotten, but it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that Alkan’s works began to emerge from obscurity. To quote the liner notes by Paul Wee, ‘Alkan’s music exhibits a formidable grasp of form and structure, a strong command of melody, a high sense of drama and an unprecedented exploitation of the capabilities of the piano.’ Combined here are the Symphony and the Concerto for Solo Piano, two pinnacles of Alkan’s legacy. Unusually, the four movements of the Symphony and the three movements of the Concerto are included as seven études within Alkan’s Douze Études dans tous les tons mineurs (Twelve studies in all the minor keys), in 1857 as his Op. 39. As to why Alkan composed these epic works and then hid them away in a set of études, Wee suggests that they are to be seen as ‘a celebration of the piano and its capabilities.’ Paul Wee is a barrister specialising in commercial law and appears regularly before courts and tribunals on behalf of clients including governments, corporations, financial institutions and individuals. Born in Australia, he began his piano studies at the age of four, continuing them in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music. Going on to study law at the University of Oxford, he attempts to balance his love for the piano alongside the demands of a busy international career in law. © BIS Records
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 1 november 2019 | Orchid Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
In my scores for each of the sonatas on this recording there are question marks. I write almost nothing in my music; I never have. Not when I was young, to the consternation of my teachers, and not now, to the amusement and occasional irritation of my colleagues. My scores contain few fingerings, hardly any phrasing indications, virtually no written instructions. Somehow, the clarity and even inspiration I get from looking at the unblemished score outweighs the potential benefit of anything I might choose to add to it. And anyway, I tell myself, if it really matters to me, I won’t forget it. This near absence of markings makes the presence of all those question marks all the more striking. It’s not just that these works are filled with questions; it’s that the questioning aspect is so central to their meaning. Playing these sonatas, I felt I could get by just fine without writing the words giocoso, or teneramente, or appassionato, even though they often apply, Lord knows; the question marks, on the other hand, felt indispensable. This recording is about culminations: each of the three works is the last of a set of three; the album comes at the end of nine years of recording these sonatas; Op.111 is Beethoven’s farewell to the genre. And so it is a beautiful irony that these pieces feature so many more questions than they do answers – that they offer so much more uncertainty than certainty. It is especially fascinating given that this is Beethoven, of all people: a composer of unmatched inner conviction and intensity. And yet, ultimately, this music is as much about his vulnerability as it is about his strength. Having said all of that, the work that opens this recording – the D major Sonata Op.10 No.3, one of the masterpieces of Beethoven’s early period – begins with a declarative statement; the questions will come later. This opening salvo, rising throughout and crackling with energy in the way that only Beethoven’s music can, acts as a launching pad for a movement that is altogether an irresistible force: unusually marked “Presto,” its momentum and almost reckless optimism are its dominant features. But even in this movement, brilliant and confident as it is, questioning will play a major role: there are passages where bar after bar, the upbeats are accented, rather than the downbeats. This goes on for such an uncomfortably long time, it eventually messes with our perception of the meter and, by extension, our perception of the passage of time. The slow movement which follows doesn’t merely alter our perception of time: by its end, time itself stops. Its marking of “Largo e mesto” is just as atypical of Beethoven as was the firstmovement’s “Presto” – Beethoven wrote plenty of tragic music, but it was rare for him to make the sadness explicit inthe tempo indication, which should give a sense of just how extreme and overt this movement’s grief is. This sonata was written shortly before the Quartet Op.18 No.1, whose slow movement allegedly is meant to evoke the tomb scene from Romeo and Juliet. The two slow movements occupy a similar emotional space: where so much of Beethoven’s music is deeply emotional without being demonstrative, these slow movements are theatrical. The pain is real, but it is also being performed, with sighing appoggiaturas and violent outbursts not just conveying the music’s character, but telegraphing it. This movement is – as is always the case with Beethoven – powerful and immaculately wrought, but its affects do not feel as devastatingly personal as is the case with so many of his other slow movements. Still, by the time the movement comes to an end, with its long lines having largely broken down, and silence having become more prominent than sound, the effect is overpowering. In the last movement of Op.10 No.3, the silences become even more frequent and more significant, and it is here that the music becomes a festival of questions. As thrilling and vibrant as the sonata has already been, it is this movement that is most totally original. Being a rondo, its main theme appears again and again, which only serves to underscore that it isn’t really a “theme” at all: it is a three note query, pointed upward, like all questions, ending in irresolution and followed by a silence that is much longer than it is. In this movement, Beethoven manages to be simultaneously good-natured and extremely mysterious, and the latter quality becomes more and more prominent as these questions accumulate. It is one of Beethoven’s most imaginative solutions to the problem of what sort of a movementshould end a sonata, and its final moments – with the left hand playing different versions of the three note figure again and again, as the right glides weightlessly up and down the keyboard – are as moving as they are witty. If Op.10 No.3’s questions took a while to appear, in the Sonata Op.31 No.3, they arrive instantly – in the first measure of the first movement. It is difficult to convey, from the vantage point of 2019, and after Schubert and Brahms and Stravinsky and Xenakis and all the rest, just what a bold move it was for Beethoven to do this in 1802: to begin a work not with an assertive announcement of its tonality, but with a falling – sighing – fifth, harmonically away from home. This opening conveys such a sense of vulnerability, it was co-opted by none other than Robert Schumann – the philosopher-king of musical vulnerability – for the opening of his A major String Quartet. Beethoven was often the most single-minded – some might say bloody-minded – of composers, sticking with one idea, one character, one mood, for minutes on end. But in this movement, the fragility of the opening is in constant dialogue with music that is spirited and playful. This slightly uncharacteristic meeting of unlike musics launches a sonata that finds Beethoven experimenting again and again: a scherzo that would not sound out of place in a Mozart opera, a courtly, nostalgic menuetto that stands in for a true slow movement, a finale that evokes a hunt. Op.31 No.3 comes near the start of Beethoven’s middle period, and the questions are not only in the music itself: after having mastered one version of the form in his early period, Beethoven is now questioning what a sonata can be. From that point on, Beethoven would provide a different, usually stunning answer to the question each time he wrote a piano sonata; Op.111, his final essay in the form and thus his final answer to that question, is as astonishing – as unfathomable – today as it was in 1822. The shy, halting query that opens Op.31 No.3 was already a significant departure from classical norms; the enraged one that launches Op.111 far from any harmonic home and sets it on its harrowing course is one of the most unsettling moments in all of music. Op.111 has just two movements – the idea of something following the second would be unthinkable – and the two are a clash of opposites. The first is dominated by rigour, concision, rage, harmonic tension, propulsion, and hopelessness; the second, by spaciousness, consolation, consonance, a freewheeling improvisatory quality, and, above all, wonder. This set of variations covers a massive amount of emotional and psychological territory – it ranges from absolute serenity to an overwhelming, questing intensity – but throughout, it regards the universe with the widest of eyes. Op.111 is the end – the end of Beethoven’s journey with the piano sonata, his last word on the genre he upended and in which he was most prolific – and therefore one of the strangest and most remarkable things about it is its inability to end. Its theme has an open-ended, inconclusive quality, which always makes the next variation, and the next, and the next – each more restless than the one before – seem inevitable. When this progression from the calm to the wild reaches an improbably jazz-inflected extreme, and yet still cannot resolve, Beethoven searches for closure in other ways, mining the nether regions of the piano, and the stratospheric end, in alternation. When this brings him no closer to a point of rest, he travels further still, to a distant E flat major oasis that chafes and bristles and struggles against the limitations of the piano, against its refusal to make a sound that sings and carries and lives forever… The desire to live forever, and the impossibility of living forever, is really the subtext of this movement, and of Beethoven’s enormous difficultyin ending it. And it is the only explanation for why this movement – the longest and in some ways most monumental of Beethoven’s sonata movements – ends not with certainty, not with an affirmation, but with an evaporation into thin air. Not a question, precisely, but one final expression of vulnerability and doubt. My feeling has always been (and always will be, I suspect) that this ending is a death – a heartbeat that simply stops. No one will ever know if this was Beethoven’s intention. But it is, beyond all argument, a commentary on the unknowability of the universe. It is somehow both humbling and reassuringto know that Beethoven was as uncertain of his place in it as the rest of us are. His ability to communicate that uncertainty is perhaps the greatest of all the gifts he left us. © 2019 Jonathan Biss
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 20 september 2019 | Groupe Analekta, Inc

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 20 september 2019 | SOMM Recordings

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 3 mei 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 5 juli 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 14 juni 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
Following a previous recording devoted to Mozart, François Chaplin has chosen Brahms' latest opus for solo piano: Rhapsodies Op. 79 and the intermezzi from Klavierstücke Op. 117 and Op. 118. The Rhapsodies, moving and powerful scores, express Brahms' sober melancholy. Far from his symphonic works, the interludes of Opus 117 and Opus 118, true miniatures, reveal the inner imagination of the composer. Brahms talks directly to the heart of the listener with his mature and sober poetry. Within these Klavierstücke, the interlude is a humble but generous genre where the musician gathers freely the fruits of his most intimate inspiration. These « lullabies of pain », as he called them, are composed during summer in the Austrian countryside, dear to this sturdy northern German. The emotion that emerges from it is all the more intense as it measures his artistic evolution. On this journey, François Chaplin brings out a soft poetry from a contained lyricism. © Aparté
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 7 juni 2019 | DUX

Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 17 mei 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 17 mei 2019 | Lyrinx

Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 10 mei 2019 | Orfeo

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 10 mei 2019 | Oehms Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 5 april 2019 | Eloquentia

Hi-Res Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 15 maart 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 15 maart 2019 | JB Recordings

Hi-Res Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 15 maart 2019 | Odradek Records

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 1 maart 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 1 maart 2019 | Ilona Records

Hi-Res Booklet
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Piano solo - Verschenen op 22 februari 2019 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama