The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music notes: Beyond Grammy list, many classical CDs are worth giving and receiving — Part 2

December 13, 2009

By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday, I named some noteworthy CDs that were missing from the complete list of the classical music nominees for the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, which I posted this past week.

Here are some more:

Chopin, Four Mazurkas, Op. 33; Three Waltzes, Op. 34; Piano Sonata No. 2 “Funeral March” Op. 35; Ballade No. 2, op. 38; and Impromptu No. 2, Op. 36. Maurizio Pollini. Deutsche Grammophon. This time the steel-fingered Pollini, who won the first Chopin Competition when he was just 18, tackles Chopin in a chronological order, recital format that one hopes he continues. This makes for a great recital disc that shows the unity in various genres.

Handel: Trio Sonatas Op.2 and Op. 5, Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music (Harmonia Mundi). These are virtuosic and energetic readings that should do much to help Handel reach more people. This was a big year Handel year for Egarr who also released the Op. 1 Solo Sonatas and in 2007 the Concerto Grossi Op. 3. All are highly recommended.

Haydn, Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2. Marc-Andre Hamelin (Hyperion). The so-called “supervirtuoso” reigns in his virtuosity to serve the music in these crisply articulated but sensitively nuanced readings.

Hadyn, Complete (104) Symphonies, Philharmonica Hungarica under Antal Dorati. Decca. This is a remastered rerelease of a historic set from the 1970s. But it still holds its own and is a bargain if you want to get to know Haydn as we leave his anniversary year (200th of his death in 1809).

Haydn, Piano Trios, Vol. 2. Florestan Trio. Hyperion. Like the string quartet, this genre was brought to mainstream perfection by Haydn. These great works deserve a much wider hearing. The old Beaux Arts Trio sets still holds up well, but this lively newer recording features fine sound and stylish performances.

Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 29, 33, 35 (“Haffner”), 38 (“Prague”) and 41 (“Jupiter”) Orchestra Mozart under Claudio Abbado. (Archiv). Live recordings of works new to Abbado’s discography, this 2-CD set of a joy to listen to. It also has a sister set of Mozart’s five Violin Concertos and Symphonia Concertante with Guiliano Carmignola that is commendable.

Paganini, 24 Caprices. Thomas Zehetmair (ECM). This virtuosic but musical reading of virtuosic music set a standard for these violin classics.

Piano Sonatas by Haydn (No. 52), Mozart (K. 311) and Beethoven (Op. 2, No. 2) by Rafal BlechaczDeutsche Grammophon. This young winner of the Chopin competition uses a recital to shows links among and influences between Classical composers.

Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet and Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-Flat. Pianist Yefim Bronfman; violinist  Pinchas Zukerman; cellist Amanda Forsyth; violist Jethro Marks; and bassist Joel Quarrington. Sony-BMG. These are high-octane readings of a fine pairing grab you and don’t let you go. Plus Zukerman and Forsyth will perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in February and Bronfman is an old favorite of Madisonians.

What classical CDs would you recommend as holiday gifts?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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