Jean-Philippe Collard - Fauré: Barcarolles, Impromtus (1990)

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Jean-Philippe Collard - Fauré: Barcarolles, Impromtus (1990)

Jean-Philippe Collard - Fauré: Barcarolles, Impromtus (1990)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 02:30:24 | 552 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI Classics | Catalog: 7 62687 2

Faure's outpout for the piano is prodigious, but the intensely introspective nature of his music has eluded performers and audience alike. Thankfully, pianists like Collard have made this music available to the public. Collard's Faure is buoyant, lyrical, youthful and therefore somewhat straight forward, yet it is an approach that rescues this music from sentimentality, especially in those written during Faure's early period. For example, when compared to Paul Crossley, whose Valses-Caprice stretches rhythmic freedom beyond good taste, Collard's no-nonsense reading brings out the vitality of these exquisite pieces. If you like Chopin already but are not familiar with Faure, this would be a good introduction.

Cuarteto Casals - Brahms: String Quartets, Piano Quintet (2008)

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Cuarteto Casals - Brahms: String Quartets, Piano Quintet (2008)

Cuarteto Casals - Brahms: String Quartets, Piano Quintet (2008)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 02:15:38 | 614 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Harmonia Mundi | Catalog: 987074

The three string quartets of Johannes Brahms are difficult beasts to master. On the one hand, they contain some of the densest, richest harmonization in the repertoire. This can be quickly followed by moments of utter transparency and serenity. The Cuarteto Casals, however, only delivers on one half of this sonic spectrum. When it comes to the lighter sound quality as heard, for example, in the beginning of the third movement of the A minor quartet or the fourth movement of the B flat major quartet, the sound quality produced by the Cuarteto Casals seems just about right.

Tatiana Nikolayeva - Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 87 (1991)

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Tatiana Nikolayeva - Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 87 (1991)

Tatiana Nikolayeva - Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 87 (1991)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 165:53 | 567 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Hyperion | Catalog: CDA66441/3

These preludes and fugures by Shostakovich are not the easiest in the world for interpretation. Think a Slavic Bach. It is unfair to call these works "modern" and it's not just because they are with the confines of a Medieval form. But sometimes the listener will catch something that is reminiscent of 20th centyury Soviet music. These works are miniatures - a form totally at odds with the usual way we consider the composer. Tatiana Nikolayeva is simply brilliant in her interpretation - the clarity is startling. It may take a while but this is a recording that appreciates the more it is heard.

Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, Piano Sonatas Nos. 22 & 23 (2004)

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Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, Piano Sonatas Nos. 22 & 23 (2004)

Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, Piano Sonatas Nos. 22 & 23 (2004)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 362 MB | 47:58
Genre: Classical | Label: RCA Red Seal

These Beethoven performances were recorded in 1960 during Sviatoslav Richter’s first tour of the United States, and they sound marginally fuller and more vivid here than in RCA’s deleted Papillon series transfers. The C major concerto has a lot to recommend it. Richter’s Olympian command and control of the keyboard, tonal solidity, and emotional reserve remind me of the Michelangeli/Giulini and Pollini/Jochum versions from nearly two decades later. Charles Munch’s robust and powerfully projected accompaniment proves how underrated this conductor was (and still is) in the central German repertoire, although Szell’s sharper accents and astringent textures better suit the music’s witty subtext.

Sviatoslav Richter - In Memoriam (1998)

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Sviatoslav Richter - In Memoriam (1998)

Sviatoslav Richter - In Memoriam (1998)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 688 MB | 02:26:40
Genre: Classical | Label: Deutsche Grammophon

This Deutsche Grammophon compilation is an excellent celebration of the talents of the great pianist Sviatoslav Richter. In keeping with his own approach, the choice of music demonstrates that there is much more to piano virtuosity than the ability to play fast and loud. He could do this, of course, but here we also experience his phenomenal control over the `colour' of each note (the Bach D minor prelude) his poise (the Debussy Estampes) and his intellectual grasp of structure (the Chopin F minor Ballade which also superbly demonstrates his ability to make the piano roar, whisper or sing).

Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven: Hammerklavier, Live in London (2014)

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Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven: Hammerklavier, Live in London (2014)

Sviatoslav Richter - Beethoven: Hammerklavier, Live in London (2014)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 196 MB | 43:39
Genre: Classical | Label: Stradivarius

Sviatoslav Richter is an all-around performer who has tackled musical repertoire from Bach to Webern, but has not been a performer identified with the Viennese classical composers. Yet Richter’s Beethoven repertoire is enormous, and he has performed nine concertos and nine sonatas by Mozart as well as various works of lesser proportions and many violin sonatas. At the present time it is easier to see the Beethoven-Richter relationship relatively clearly. We do not know if Richter took into account the fact that Beethoven had been an avid reader of Homer, but this performance of the Hammerklavier is, without any doubt, epic.

Sir Charles Mackerras - Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado (1992)

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Sir Charles Mackerras - Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado (1992)

Sir Charles Mackerras - Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado (1992)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 01:18:59 | 370 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Telarc | Catalog: 80284

Conductor Sir Charles Mackerras has always been a champion of the music of Arthur Sullivan. In the early '90's, he began to record the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas with Telarc. Like the Sargent recordings of the '50's, Mackerras uses mostly opera singers–veterans of Covent Garden and of the English and Welsh National Operas but he secured the services of two veteran Savoyards, Richard Suart and the late Donald Adams. Mackerras planned to record at least seven of the Savoy operas, perhaps more, but was forced to suspend the series due to lack of funding as I understand. This fine recording of The Mikado, fortunately, was one of the four he was able to complete.

Bill Frisell - The Best of Bill Frisell, Volume 1: Folk Songs (2009)

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Bill Frisell - The Best of Bill Frisell, Volume 1: Folk Songs (2009)

Bill Frisell - The Best of Bill Frisell, Volume 1: Folk Songs (2009)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 358 MB | MP3 (CBR 320 kbps) - 158 MB | 01:04:19
Genre: Jazz | Label: Nonesuch

That Bill Frisell should get the "best-of" treatment from his longtime label Nonesuch seems overdue, even strangely so. Frisell began recording for Elektra Musician in 1986 after leaving ECM Records, where he'd recorded a steady string of generally excellent but somewhat low profile albums. Elektra owned Nonesuch Records as well. When Musician ceased to function as a label, Frisell's contract was morphed into the Elektra Nonesuch imprint, and eventually once more into Nonesuch, then Elektra Asylum, then back to Nonesuch. In other words, Frisell has been working with the WEA family for over two decades. In that time he has released no less than 20 albums for the various labels under WEA's corporate umbrella.

Göteborgs Symfoniker - Rachmaninov: Complete Operas (2004)

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Göteborgs Symfoniker - Rachmaninov: Complete Operas (2004)

Göteborgs Symfoniker - Rachmaninov: Complete Operas (2004)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 802 MB | 02:52:47
Genre: Classical, Opera | Label: Deutsche Grammophon

The great Sergei Rachmaninoff was not primarily known as an opera composer. However, his three operas have an important place in the music history books. This three-disc set includes all three of Rachamninoff's operas in their entirety (one per disc) and are presented in jaw-dropping performances under the baton of conductor Neeme Jarvi. The orchestra as well as the soloists and choirs truly deliver emotionally-drenched performances on all three operas.

Vladimir Horowitz - Schumann: Kinderszenen, Fantaisie, Arabeske (2003)

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Vladimir Horowitz - Schumann: Kinderszenen, Fantaisie, Arabeske (2003)

Vladimir Horowitz - Schumann: Kinderszenen, Fantaisie, Arabeske (2003)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 57:49 | 255 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Sony Classical | Catalog: 90441

This is a very fine sampler of Horowitz's Schumann - surely one of the great interpretative acts of the last century? It is at least one of the greatest - probably the greatest - performance(s) of Kinderszenen around; Horowitz's almost frightening ability to give life to these pieces is inimitable, and the poetic depths and shadows of various nuances he brings to the more reflective pieces is peerless. It is, quite simply, an almost perfect performance. He is no less impressive in the other works either; the Fantasie is beautifully shaped and wonderfully played.

Elbipolis Barockorchester - Music of Hamburg's Moneybags: Telemann, Handel, Keiser (2008)

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Elbipolis Barockorchester - Music of Hamburg's Moneybags: Telemann, Handel, Keiser (2008)

Elbipolis Barockorchester - Music of Hamburg's Moneybags: Telemann, Handel, Keiser (2008)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 61:04 | 385 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: Raumklang | Catalog: RK2703

Musik der Hamburger Pfeffersäcke, The term "Pfeffersäcke" was a derogatory name for the spice merchants who provided the financial support for the arts in Hamburg. The compositions on this CD are all known to have been sponsored by the Hamburg merchants. Soprano Yeree Suh joins the Elbipolis Baroque Orchestra Hamburg in these lively and dedicated performances.

Duo Trenkner-Speidel - Rimsky-Korsakov, Honegger, Ravel: Transcriptions for Piano 4 Hands (2010)

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Duo Trenkner-Speidel - Rimsky-Korsakov, Honegger, Ravel: Transcriptions for Piano 4 Hands (2010)

Duo Trenkner-Speidel - Rimsky-Korsakov, Honegger, Ravel: Transcriptions for Piano 4 Hands (2010)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 68:39 | 238 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: MDG | Catalog: MDG3301616

Unlike many piano arrangements, all these pieces have been arranged by the composers themselves for four hands. The Piano Duo Trenkner-Speidel presents these arrangements in authentic interpretations on a sonorous Steinway concert grand piano from 1901. Evelinde Trenkner and Sontraud Speidel have recorded a whole series of CDs on MDG exhibiting their perfect symbiosis.

Melvyn Tan, The London Classical Players, Roger Norrington - Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (1993)

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Melvyn Tan, The London Classical Players, Roger Norrington - Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (1993)

Melvyn Tan, The London Classical Players, Roger Norrington - Beethoven: Piano Concertos 3 & 4 (1993)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 64:33 | 237 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI | Catalog: 7 49815 2

Whereas Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 is, despite its exemplary classical form, a direct descendant of Mozart's late works of the same genre (the opening theme appears to be a quotation), his No. 4 is a pioneering work full of innovation and ideas that were staggeringly different: the very fact that the first movement is introduced by the pianist playing solo instead of by an orchestral introduction is a revolution in itself and a signpost of the good things to come. The adjective that seems to describe Melvyn Tan's and Roger Norrington's recording best is 'winsome', here used in its positive meaning of 'attractive, pleasing' with a slight tinge of 'childlike-ness'.

Tokyo String Quartet - Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (2010)

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Tokyo String Quartet - Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (2010)

Tokyo String Quartet - Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (2010)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 988 MB | 03:18:08
Genre: Classical | Label: Harmonia Mundi

The Tokyo String Quartet is one of the world's leading interpreters of Beethoven, and although its 1993 RCA release of the complete string quartets is one of the most admired of modern digital sets, the ensemble offers a refreshed presentation of the late string quartets on this 2010 triple SACD package from Harmonia Mundi. This release follows albums of Beethoven's early and middle quartets, issued by the group between 2005 and 2009, and while the Tokyo's personnel differs from past lineups, the group has maintained great consistency of tone, superb technique, and refined expression since its founding in 1969.

Ute Lemper - All That Jazz: The Best Of Ute Lemper (1998)

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Ute Lemper - All That Jazz: The Best Of Ute Lemper (1998)

Ute Lemper - All That Jazz: The Best Of Ute Lemper (1998)
WEB | FLAC (tracks) - 408 MB | MP3 (CBR 320 kbps) - 187 MB | 01:19:12
Genre: Musical, Jazz, Chanson | Label: London Records

London Records' Ute Lemper compilation takes its title from a song she sang in her London appearance in the musical Chicago in 1998; it is followed at the start of the disc by her performance of "Don't Tell Mama," a song from another Kander & Ebb show, Cabaret, that she appeared in 1986, and which she recorded on her debut album for Columbia, Crimes of the Heart, in 1987. The two songs neatly dovetail her work over the 12-year period, not only because they are show tunes by the same songwriters but also because they are both pastiches of interwar music, and Lemper has specialized in actual interwar music in between.