Spotlight on Piano Recordings
Our classical music specialist Kate Rockstrom puts the spotlight on piano repertoires.
When looking at the stacks in a store, there are so many solo piano CDs, where do you start? So I took six new piano recordings and compared them a little.
If you like traditional repertoire Beethoven is considered the master of keyboard repertoire. Although the box set of complete Piano Sonatas by Claudio Arrau is 12 discs long, it can still be listened to in smaller chunks. Meanwhile the Beethoven Cello Works by Zoe Knighton and Amir Farid is a great entry point. Two sets of variations, plus the Cello Sonatas ease you in the world of Romanticism.
The very famous Mozart Piano Concertos No 20 and 21 are works that will sound vaguely familiar even if you don’t know their names. Although the recording we have on special this month by 16 year old Jan Lisiecki is absolutely terrific, both works are great no matter which recording you have.
Sometimes that feels all a little too safe and you might need something brighter, but not too scary musically. Sally Whitwell broke into the recording industry with an award winning album of Philip Glass works and her second album is going to be just as well received. A medley of tunes from films it’s not just delightful, it’s whimsical.
If we’re looking for whimsical but something with a bit more meat, have a look at Yuja Wang’s Fantasia. Yuja is making waves internationally with her virtuosity and these are terrific miniatures to introduce you not only to piano repertoire but the idea of arrangements of major orchestral works. They’re odd listening for someone who’s very familiar with the orchestral works but I find there’s a new aspect to them that wouldn’t necessarily be found otherwise.
If however you want something that’s got something comfortable and something to stretch yourself, Jeremy Denk’s new album mixes Ligeti with Beethoven in a way that is not only inspiring but interesting for everyone. Musically strong and terribly fascinating this is listening that can stretch your ears to new limits.