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Classical - Released November 11, 2016 | CAvi-music

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | CAvi-music

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Classical - Released April 24, 2020 | CAvi-music

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While string instruments gave rise to a new repertoire of chamber music at the end of the 18th century with new forms emerging such as the quartet and its derivatives, quintets, septet or octet, the same could not be said for wind instruments since their construction was constantly changing, preventing a cohesive sound when it came to playing together. These counter-productive technical constraints caused a delay in terms of new works. The wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon) gradually came to the fore in the early 19th century, sparking a new craze before enjoying its golden age in the 20th century. The young Beethoven soon became interested in wind instruments, using them in a completely new way throughout his orchestral works. His Quintet for Piano and Winds Op. 16 from 1796 is reminiscent of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet composed twelve years earlier. He later composed an arrangement for piano and strings, but the original sounds just as good, especially thanks to Beethoven’s new way of writing for wind instruments. The two other works on this album are arrangements, as evidenced by the Piano Concerto from 1784, where the lost accompaniment is reconstructed for wind quintet. Being fond of mechanical music, people in the 18th century invented clocks allowing music to be played automatically by complex systems. Like his elders, the young Beethoven composed specific pieces presented here as arrangements for the Ma’alot Quintet accompanied by pianist Markus Becker for the other works in this original programme. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | CPO

After tragically losing his right arm in World War I, pianist Paul Wittgenstein sought out works for the left-hand that would save his career. Thanks to his family's considerable wealth, he was able to commission pieces from the major composers of his day, including Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, Sergey Prokofiev, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Paul Hindemith, and Benjamin Britten. Yet of all who wrote concertos and chamber works for him, Wittgenstein preferred Franz Schmidt above all others, and still expressed his admiration for him years later, when the composer was dead and forgotten. The Concertante Variations on a Theme of Beethoven for piano, left-hand, and orchestra is based on a melody taken from the Scherzo of the Violin Sonata No. 5, "Spring." Schmidt deploys every conceivable trick and mood to vary this quirky, syncopated tune, and maintains remarkably clear textures and a light, playful tone throughout. The Concerto in E flat major for piano, left-hand, and orchestra is altogether different in feeling, resembling Schmidt's symphonies in its serious tone and following a course of development that is symphonic in scope. This CPO release by pianist Markus Becker and the NDR Radiophilharmonie, conducted by Eiji Ouè, presents both the Beethoven Variations and the Piano Concerto with expressive playing, coherent interpretation, and terrific sound. The piano and orchestra are well-balanced and carefully separated, so every part is audible, and the soloist is centrally placed and clearly heard, even when the accompaniment is at its thickest. Listeners who enjoy rich, post-Romantic music and collectors of Schmidt's music will find this disc pleasurable and add it to their libraries posthaste. © TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 11, 2019 | BERTHOLD Records

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Classical - Released January 4, 2019 | CAvi-music

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Back when Reger was writing his Piano Concerto, 1910, Debussy was working on La Mer and Stravinsky his Firebird. Vienna was becoming the crucible of the new dodecaphonism style. Reger kept his distance from all these tendencies, preferring to explore his own path, which, while sometimes difficult, was always marked by polyphony and counterpoint. His music's architecture was always made up of self-contained cells, like a kind of careful patchwork in which the various elements didn't always seem to relate to each other. Just listen (or re-listen, rather) carefully to the Concerto and you will get a taste of this juxtaposition of modernity with a desire to remain rooted in the past. Markus Becker (who recorded all of Reger's solo piano works over twenty years) rounds off the collection with the Épisodes, written in the same year as the Concerto, but in an almost-miniaturist style – which just goes to show that all of Reger's work isn't marked by gigantism as these pieces all clock in at three or four minutes each. In them, the composer returns to the path of his great inspirations: the later Brahms and Beethoven's final works including the Bagatelles. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2001 | Thorofon Records

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Classical - Released February 1, 2006 | CPO

Aside from his legendary Ballet mécanique, which still gets played as a kind of souvenir of the madcap 1920s, George Antheil's concert music has mostly fallen into obscurity. In spite of his reputation as an enfant terrible who hobnobbed with the leading lights of the avant-garde, his works attract less attention than the details of his life. Yet this state of affairs might be reversed if this delightful release from CPO gets proper distribution, for the pieces presented here are worth hearing in their own right, in addition to whatever biographical interest they may hold. The Piano Concerto No. 1 (1922) has a few obvious touches of Bartók and Debussy, and more than a little borrowing from Stravinsky's Petrouchka, but in spite of these derivative aspects, it is an imaginative composition with lively repartee between the pianist and the orchestra and quicksilver changes of mood. Somewhat more independently developed, consistent in material, and mature in style, the Piano Concerto No. 2 (1949-1950) is almost as entertaining as its predecessor, though it is tinged with a melancholy not found in Antheil's brash, youthful works. A Jazz Symphony (1925, rev. 1955) smacks of Ballet mécanique's chaos and irreverence, and its surrealistic jumble of dance tunes and rapid metrical changes may suggest to some ears a nightmarish montage by a Gershwin or a Milhaud. The 2004 performances by pianist Markus Becker and the NDR Orchestra, conducted by Eiji Oue, are bright and vibrantly colorful, and the program is enhanced with five short encores for piano solo, which Becker delivers with charm and wit. CPO's sound is excellent, and the package on the whole is attractive, but the liner notes are rambling and at times unintelligible. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 1997 | Thorofon Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | CPO

CPO's Jan Ladislav Dussek: Piano Sonatas Opp. 9 & 77, featuring pianist Markus Becker, contrasts Dussek's last-known work -- the Grande Sonate in F minor, subtitled "L'Invocation" -- with three of Dussek's earliest, solo piano arrangements of works originally published as accompanied sonatas. Becker -- who performs these sonatas on a modern grand -- is certainly the right player to put the best face on these pieces; his playing is grand, confident, and forceful. "L'Invocation" is an engrossing piece with a wide variety of emotional twists and turns and a secure, yet exploratory approach to pianistic technique that in the Tempo di Minuetto movement betrays the influence of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. It is a landmark piece well worth knowing, and as Dussek -- by 1812 no longer youthful, badly overweight, and suffering from a multitude of ailments -- did not live to produce another, "L'Invocation" stands as his valedictory statement. By comparison, the three sonatas of Op. 3, dating from 1786, contain no foreshadowing of psychological form, though they do represent a highly elaborated and expanded take on the classical piano sonata. Superficially, they seem similar to Beethoven's early piano sonatas, but listening closely reveals that Dussek's work has its own aesthetic and unique voice, not to mention that Beethoven himself was only beginning to compose when these works first appeared. While they are anything but conformist -- contrast any one of these sonatas to one of Haydn's, for example -- they are a little more difficult to warm up to than the "L'Invocation" is and will reward repeated listens. However, the Larghetto from the Sonata Op. 9/2 in C major is quite penetrating, striking, and memorable. If one were to judge Dussek solely on his scandal-ridden and sometimes wasteful personal life, then his relative obscurity might be seen as well deserved. Where would we be, however, if we applied the same criteria to the work of Richard Wagner? In terms of the final phase of the classical piano sonata, Dussek's work has a relative value similar to Wagner's place in the scheme of high German romanticism just prior into its dissolution into the post-romantic ethos. Wagner was the culmination of the process that began with Beethoven, just as Beethoven naturally carried the torch of the aesthetic from which Dussek sprang, and probably buried it forever. Such observations still may not compel one to listen to Dussek; however, if a listener decides to take the plunge, CPO's Jan Ladislav Dussek: Piano Sonatas, Opp. 9 & 77, is as good as it gets in terms of advocacy of Dussek as a figure worthy of first-tier status. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2001 | Thorofon Records

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 1999 | Thorofon Records

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 1999 | Thorofon Records

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2000 | Thorofon Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | CPO

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 1997 | Thorofon Records

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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2001 | Thorofon Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | CPO

What could one say to Markus Becker, the German pianist who made his solo recording debut with 10 volumes of the complete piano works of Max Reger in the late '90s and then followed that up with recordings of the piano works of Jan Dussek and George Antheil plus Bach's Goldberg Variations? The same thing one could say to Becker when he recorded Beethoven's gargantuan Hammerklavier Sonata, Op. 106, in 2004: "Good luck and God bless you." But whatever the merits of Becker's Reger recordings, his Hammerklavier sounds much too close to Reger for comfort. The work itself, of course, is the biggest, the toughest, and, one could argue, the most Reger-esque of all Beethoven's sonatas, but despite the fact that Becker clearly has the technique and the temperament for the work and although his attack is clean, his tone is crisp, and his interpretation is clear, there's still something too like Reger about his performance. Perhaps it's the apparent dominance of the intellect over the emotions and of the fingers over the soul, but whatever it is, it makes Becker's Hammerklavier a bit too much to take. Amazingly enough, however, Becker's coupling of Beethoven's C major Sonata, Op. 2/3, is altogether much more successful. Perhaps it's the lighter tone or slighter dimensions, but the work brings out a less strenuous and more playful side of Becker's character that suits the music admirably. CPO's digital sound is cool, but too distant and a bit harsh. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 1999 | Thorofon Records

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Classical - Released March 1, 2006 | CPO

Investigate the music of Beethoven's contemporaries who were well enough known to be called his rivals, and the idea of Beethoven as fist-shaking revolutionary comes in for some serious revision. Jan Ladislav Dussek, Bohemian-born, became famous all over Europe for piano music that was daring in every way. The three sonatas on this disc date from the very beginning of the nineteenth century. They have Beethovenian dimensions and conventions -- the Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major, Op. 44, is a "Farewell" sonata -- and their harmonic schemes, at both movement-wide and local levels, are ambitious. Listen to Dussek, or Hummel, and Beethoven begins to seem like the composer who brought their innovations back within the confines of classical frameworks. The clear outlines of Beethoven's movements are missing in these works, which are occasionally dull -- the incessant motor action of the first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp minor, Op. 61, is enough to make you want to leave the room for a sandwich and a beer, or to wish for the opening movement of the "Moonlight" sonata. But in the main these are expansive works with much to tell us about the music Beethoven was hearing and reacting to. Pianist Markus Becker delivers fine readings, with sensitivity to the rhetorical gestures of the music and an admirable refusal to pile more passion onto these works than they can comfortably handle. © TiVo