Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday discs

A few CDs that have come my way recently that you may enjoy too:

Marc-Andre Hamelin's new disc of Schumann (Hyperion), featuring Papillons, the Fantasiestucke Op.12 and Carnaval. There's so much fantasy, warmth, tenderness and sheer 'oomph' about Marc's playing here that for the first time I'm willing to relegate my previous Carnaval favourite, Youri Egourov, to the back-burner shelf.

Double Dream (EMI), a bizarre but oddly successful programme of improvisations on some well-known piano pieces on two pianos, played by Mikhail Rudy and Misha Alperin. I approached this with some caution, but found it amazingly compelling: the two Mishas choose works including Schumann's 'Prophet Bird', Janacek's 'On an Overgrown Path', and works by Chopin, Prokofiev and Bach besides Alperin's original compositions, and take them meditatively to places you'd never have dreamed they could go.

The Florestan Trio plays Mendelssohn (Hyperion). This is WONDERFUL. Mendelssohn needs a very special soundworld, driven with elan and fire yet full of air and lightness and subtlety. The Florestans give him the lot. Not many CDs make it straight onto my iTunes (that's on the computer, not an iPod, which I don't have...), but this one did and I play it every time I need cheering up.

The Wanderer: Luiza Borac plays Schubert and Liszt (Avie). Dynamic, glittering, galvanising and sensitive playing from this wonderful young Romanian, following the Wanderer Fantasy with a smashing selection of Italian-themed Liszt from the Annees de Pelerinage.

Vytautas Barkauskas's Duo Concertante and more (Avie), recorded live in Vilnius last year by Philippe Graffin, Nobuko Imai and the Vilnius Festival Orchestra under Robertas Servenikas. I was THERE when they recorded it (see Archives, June 2004) and it sounds every bit as good on CD as it did on the day. The piece is fabulous, full of colour and imagination, with the two characterful soloists on top form. On the disc Philippe also plays Barkauskas's Violin Concerto, Jeux, which he commissioned and recorded the previous year - again, playful, quirky, intriguing music that lives in a special imaginative world of its own.