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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Decca Music Group Ltd.
To Bartók, the piano was a modernist percussion instrument of hammers and wires and pedals, an instrument that couldn't be less suited for the long legato lines and smooth, sculpted sound of nineteenth century piano music, but that also couldn't be more suited for the sharp-cornered, hard-edged sound of twentieth century piano music, particularly Bartók's own piano music. And while earlier pianists have tried to capture Bartók's particularly percussive style of piano writing, nearly all of them were brought up in the nineteenth century and thus, intentionally or not, rounded off Bartók's corners and blunted his edges. Not Zoltán Kocsis; as a Hungarian pianist, Kocsis was born playing Bartók's melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, and as a twentieth century pianist, Kocsis is utterly at home in Bartók's sharp, hard, and edgy world. In this complete set of all Bartók's music for solo piano, Kocsis turns in what may be the finest set of the music in recorded history. Everything from the easiest Microkosmos through the insanely demanding Allegro barbaro is brilliantly performed, thoroughly convincing, and absolutely enjoyable, and nothing sounds long, smooth, or round. While certainly not intended to be listened to all in one sitting, Kocsis' Bartók set is the one to have if you're having only one. Philips' piano sound is, as always, crisp, vivid, and just about real.