Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

various artists
rec 1955-1998
RCA VICTOR 75605 51366 2 2 CD set [76.33+73.23]

In booklet colours more worthy of Liberace RCA pitch this album at the Kaytel and Walmart quartile. That market is not knowledgeable but knows that it might enjoy some familiar fare in a package that is cheaper and has a long playing time. Across the two discs there are 27 tracks with most being of 1990s vintage.

The music? There is a tenebrous magic in Mikhail's Kazakevich's C sharp minor Prelude of Rachmaninov. The same pianist's Traumerei (misspelt in the booklet) is a little on the lumpen side. Ricardo Castro's Minute Waltz is not at all special. On the other hand Alfredo Perl's Moonlight Sonata Adagio is lovingly spun. Castro is better in the Rondo alla Turca (Mozart). Ewa Poblocka is the tranced pianist in the 2nd movement of Grieg's piano concerto. She is accompanied by a secure and responsive Polish RSO/Tadeusz Wojciechowski.

The slippery shimmer of Liszt's Feux Follets is well put across by Perl. John Browning blasts through the Chopin Revolutionary study - not his finest hour. Geza Anda's renowned 'Elvira Madigan' andante is self-recommending. John Lenehan dreams carefully through Satie's Gymnopédie No. 1. Debussy's Flaxen Haired Girl and the Für Elise seem not quite to gel in Andrew Wilde's hands. Horowitz's Mephisto Waltz No. 1 is explosively suggestive of Stravinsky and Bartok. The finale of Rach 2 (nice choice there rather than the more predictable first movement) is in the competent hands of Evelyn Chen with the Philharmonia conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Worthy if not the 'full article'.

Nadia Rubanenko's Impromptu D899 No 3 does not have the poise necessary. But Kathryn Stott's Clair de Lune is spot-on - poise and enchantment meet as they do in her Ravel Pavane. Then more Beethoven; Emanuel Ax has the requisite charm and snappiness to bring to the finale of the Emperor. Conspirators are the RPO and Andre Previn. Andrew Wilde's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring misses the mark - jerky not smoothly strolling. Chen with her earlier 'running mates' takes us on a sleepy amble through Rachmaninov's Paganini Variation 18.

Kazakevich is subtle and expressive in Brahms' Intermezzo Op 118 No. 2. Liszt's well known Liebestraume No 3 is in Stott's safe hands. Michael Boriskin projects a rather rigid The Entertainer (Joplin). Ricardo Castro gives an aristocratic Chopin Nocturne Op 9 No 2 though a tad earthbound. Boriskin's Rhapsody in Blue (finale) is competent but does not fly. Ludovico's Einaudi's Le Onde (The Waves) is directly redolent of the Nyman music for The Piano. The disc ends with cobwebs banished by a cold blast - the finale of Tchaik 1 with Chen on good form.

Nice single width case. Rudimentary notes by Andrew Dalton.

Nothing special to write home about. A useful intro for the beginner but rarely the best. Perl and Kazakevich stand out in this sometimes stolid company.

Rob Barnett

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