Present Arts On CD

After Silence

This must be the ultimate choral concept album, over two hours of music divided into a quartet of roughly equal sections, dealing with four aspects of spiritual life and each containing one substantial work surrounded by complementary shorter ones. The styles range from the sixteenth century till now. Only the Bach and Mahler works have instrumental accompaniment but these never outnumber the eight voices of the group’s title…

Alfredo Piatti

All great 19th century instrumental virtuosi were expected to write ‘novelties’ to play at their concerts. Often amateurs were good enough to play the serious works at home and the ‘stars’ gave their recitals as much to show how much better than average they were, as to provide insights into the great works of composers. The operatic fantasy was much beloved by Liszt for the piano and flautists made similar arrangements…

Debussy – Images

This latest in Sir Mark’s recordings of Debussy’s orchestral works is another fine example of his ability to give shape to the music and not be distracted into letting glossy sound take away from these magnificent pieces of mood painting. He allows the music space, nothing is rushed – indeed Ibéria’s streets are full of rather stately citizens, their brass chorales and arabic timbres pointed out on a good humoured stroll. The perfumed night is langorous and sensuously exotic, the festival morning opens without too much haste then, as if the townspeople suddenly realise what day it is, hurl themselves out of bed, grab a coffee, and prepare for the fun to come…

Bartok

The two works here bookend Bartok’s composing life. The Suite was written in 1905, when he was twenty-four, and draws upon tunes that were popular songs of the time, rather than overtly nationalist folk material. Then a liberal humanistic Hungary was the dream – a dream snuffed out with brief interludes ever since. Bartok championed Hungary’s musical heritage but he despised its right wing politics, refusing a medal for this work when it was offered by fascist sympathisers in 1936. He revised the Suite in 1920 but Thomas Dausgard has gone back to the original version and this is the first time it has been recorded in that form…

Beethoven

Ronald Brautigam is no stranger to these concertos, having recorded them both on the modern piano and its historical equivalent. In this latest recording he uses two copies of instruments contemporary with the time of composition made by the American builder, Paul McNulty, in his country workshop in the Czech Republic…