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Solo Piano - Released November 29, 2019 | Sony Classical

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International stardom has made Lang Lang into an ambassador for the classical repertoire. Sony has chosen Beethoven's 250th birthday to release a compilation that was born of a live concert recorded in Vienna, a city which has seen the birth of so many of the composer's works. The collection takes in Sonata No.3 and No.23, also known as Appassionata. These scores are an imaginary battlefield pitting the writer's contending passions against one another. Beethoven, subject to a compulsive inspiration, uses his writing to guide, even contain, this irresistible force: the greatest liberty dammed up by reason, an apparent paradox which his art summarises well. But here Lang Lang gives us an almost fantastical Beethoven. The pianist has fun with a repertoire which exacerbates contrasts thanks to an immense palette of nuances and several liberties taken with the tempos. Although his level of technique permits him such extravagances, it must be said that he is much more conventional with Beethoven than he is with Rachmaninov. You don't fool around with the Master of Bonn. The record closes on a studio version of the first movement of Sonata No.17 (the famous Tempest), recorded for the video game Gran Turismo 5. The rather grandiloquent switch between its Largo and Allegro sections makes its mark on the text. Lang Lang serves up a very literally visual interpretation of this score, built around the most epic settings that these Beethovian storms permit. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released November 1, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Seventeen years after his first Schubert recording, Arcadi Volodos takes us on another dive into the world of Schubert with the very great and very turbulent Sonata in A Major, D.959. Less than two months before his death, Schubert wrote this penultimate sonata, the most fully-developed in terms of the scope of its final movement. In its crepuscular light, it enfolds the darkness of human solitude in Andantino in F Sharp Minor, which protests against a cheap happiness, first with resignation and then with indignation. Then, a cheering, somersaulting call to life, a most Viennese Scherzo, full of insousiance and serenity, which comes before the final and utterly simple movement, which suffers from no "longueur", however "divine"... Preferring intimacy to ostentation, Arcadi Volodos provides a style of expression which is no less captivating for its sobriety. Going from the most gently-whispered pianissimi to extreme fortissimi, his playing style adapts from moment to moment, a velvet touch that paints unique colours. His interior style of performance, its poetic depth, mixed with the classicism of his approach to the work, all add up to an utterly simple and natural Schubertian language. Returning to the very young Schubert, this inspired recital is rounded off with three rare Minuets (including the stunning D.600, which starts out sounding like an aria by Bach), sculpted with peerless grace and purity: a fitting end to a programme of such high musical quality. © GG/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released October 25, 2019 | Warner Classics

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Pianist Beatrice Rana made a sensation as a teen with some strikingly charismatic and virtuosic performances. Yet since then, she has taken a deliberate approach to her career, recording only periodically and not trying to be in the limelight at all times. Her approach has borne fruit in this release of works by Ravel and Stravinsky, all of them well-traveled except for the single-piano arrangement of La Valse, which is less often played due to its sheer difficulty. Rana dispatches the final swirls of notes confidently, but listen around elsewhere for the incredible variety of articulation, all of it well-considered and contributing to the greater musical whole, of which this pianist is capable. "Oiseaux tristes" (sample this) is not one of the more often excerpted movements from Ravel's Miroirs, yet Rana's sharp articulation of the distressed bird calls makes the scene come uncannily alive. The two Stravinsky ballet transcriptions have forward motion tempered by shading that suggests the original ballet music in numerous ways. To top it all off, Rana's penetrating insights in the notes, and the fine Teldex Studio sound from Parlophone/Warner Classics, and you have an album that announces Rana's progression from promising young player to one of the most important of major artists. Brava!
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Solo Piano - Released September 27, 2019 | La Dolce Volta

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Solo Piano - Released September 20, 2019 | PentaTone

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Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi interprets Schubert’s last three piano sonatas (D958-D960) on his PentaTone debut album, after years of engagement with these extraordinary works. These sonatas continue to fascinate pianists and listeners until this very day. They are arguably among the most existential music ever written for the piano, full of beauty and sadness, celebrating life and at the same time anticipating the composer’s untimely death. Even if Schubert was barely thirty years old when he wrote these works, they reveal the otherworldly and detached nature of what is often described as “late style”, while the music remains highly expressive and personal. © PentaTone
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Solo Piano - Released September 13, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Pianist Igor Levit came on the scene with an album devoted to Beethoven's late piano sonatas, works normally not undertaken until a player has had some experience. As if that were not enough, he released a three-CD set featuring Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, and Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated: three giant and challenging variation sets. Seemingly determined to outdo himself, he returned in 2019 with a complete set of Beethoven's sonatas. The four late ones, which made a critical splash, are included here (as played in 2013, not in new versions), and the rest follow somewhat in the pattern you might expect from the earlier album. Levit has said that he admires Artur Schnabel's Beethoven recordings from the 1930s, and indeed he has some of the same go-like-the-wind quality. His combination of fast tempi and graceful phrase shaping works well in many of the early sonatas, although in the Op. 10 set his tempos leave him little room for the marked Presto in the first movement of Op. 10, No. 3. His slow movements are a mixed bag, with the Adagio of the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 ("Moonlight"), lacking the evocative moods of some of the others. The first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"), takes the forward sweep too far as the important short-short-short-long motif is reduced to decoration. Levit is never less than carefully considered in his phrasing, though, and many movements have a wonderful liveliness. Sample the joyous finale of the Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, the first adumbration of the almost mystical quality of the late Beethoven. The late sonatas are worth revisiting, especially the masterfully clear Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 ("Hammerklavier"), and the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A major, Op. 110. The collection may be brash in many ways, but it lives up to its ambitions and demands attention.
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Solo Piano - Released May 3, 2019 | Mirare

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Solo Piano - Released August 30, 2019 | Warner Classics

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Solo Piano - Released August 23, 2019 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
We asked for this as much as we cautiously anticipated its arrival…Anxious to ensure the return of the pianist, Sony Classical – goodbye Deutsch Grammophon – rolled out the red carpet for Ivo Pogorelich. Recorded in Schloss Elmau and the Raiding Concert Hall (Beethoven in the former and Rachmaninoff in the latter) this new album delivers a wide sound of measured reverberation and embraces Pogorelich’s rough playing style as well as some of his more tender nuances. Like an iron hand in a velvet glove.Ivo Pogorelich is not playing around. For Rachmaninoff, he has chosen the second Sonata in B flat minor, op. 36 in its original, full-length version in which numerous sections disorientate the listener as they lose themselves on a hallucinogenic journey with the musician. Pogorelich progressively eases us in and wins us over by beginning with two, rarely recorded but known, Beethoven works: his sonatas no.22 in F major, op.54 and no.24 en F sharp major, op.78. The chosen listing is intelligent (with two major figures), ambitious (with its demanding score), and generous (for reasons mentioned above).It would seem we’re in familiar territory, yet nothing is less certain when Pogorelich seems to literally grab the scores by their reigns and breathe into them a sense of puissant heroism. Nevertheless, Pogorelich remains an expressive musician, scrutinising the texts with as much malice as severity despite some slower tempos. It’s as if the listing is backlit by his own personal vision for the works. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released July 5, 2019 | APR

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Solo Piano - Released June 14, 2019 | Aparté

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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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Solo Piano - Released May 24, 2019 | Le Palais des Dégustateurs

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Solo Piano - Released May 17, 2019 | Evidence

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In his first recording, Pianist Jean-Paul Gasparian had shown a healthy technique that is essential to play the music of Russian giants. But his strong play is also sensible. In his second disc that is now dedicated to Chopin, the young performer confirms these qualities. Especially in the four Ballads, true bravura pieces in which Jean-Paul Gasparian never fails. And if he shows rigor, he also gives himself the lyricism and beauty of these pages, from Nocturnes to Waltzes and Polonaises. His elegant expression and full sound make this new album a second essential milestone in the discography of the young pianist and more generally in that of Chopin. © Little Tribeca
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Solo Piano - Released May 17, 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Solo Piano - Released May 10, 2019 | Oehms Classics

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Solo Piano - Released April 12, 2019 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For a truly great interpretation it’s not enough just to play a historical instrument, the playing also has to be up to scratch. This recording released by the world-renowned label ECM showcases a pianist of the highest calibre playing the wonderful Viennese Brodmann piano. András Schiff captures the convergence of thought and sound remarkably well and seldom before have we been given so much insight into Schubert’s innermost thoughts. The softness and the unmistakable legato that the pianist produces on this Viennese instrument give the Sonatas D. 958 and D. 959 an indescribable feeling of nostalgia. But Schubert’s inward revolt was growing and András Schiff leads us steadily to the edge of the abyss. The crystalline sounds of the Scherzo in the Sonata D. 959 are as enchanting as the sound of ancient harpists who were so often depicted by German Romantics. This exploration into sound is also marvellous in the Impromptus D. 899 and the 3 Klavierstücke D. 946 or “Three Piano Pieces”, which have a very expressive counterpoint that differ from the unfathomable depth of the sonatas. This album is a revelation into a whole new world of sound that is unveiled as András Schiff’s fingers touch the keys. Inspiring. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released April 5, 2019 | Eloquentia

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Solo Piano - Released April 5, 2019 | BIS

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Solo Piano - Released March 29, 2019 | Supraphon a.s.

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The very first complete recording of Viktor Kalabis’s piano works, as well as the previous album of his three sonatas, have come to fruition upon the initiative and owing to the relentless enthusiasm of the world-renowned harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, the composer’s wife and a keen promoter of his oeuvre. Of major importance was the selection of the pianist – one possessing superlative technical skills and having a profound understanding of the structure of Kalabis’s music. As Ivo Kahánek put it: “Kalabis was one of the composers who don’t restrict their ideas by the traditional laws of the piano technique, hence his music is now and then extremely difficult to perform.” Even though Kalabis drew inspiration from the music of other 20th-century masters, he soon arrived at his own, singular and unique musical idiom, which is already palpable in his early opuses. The album maps more than half a century of Kalabis’s work, from the post-war Sonata No. 1 to the masterful miniatures dating from the very end of the millennium. Following the critically acclaimed recordings of his symphonic and concert pieces (Choc de Classica, Gramophone Editor’s Choice), and of the three sonatas, the present album opens yet another window into Viktor Kalabis’s fascinating musical world. © Supraphon
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Solo Piano - Released March 29, 2019 | Piano Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason