I’ve recently been discovering more wonderful classical piano; last year sometime it was Chopin, then it was Mozart, now it’s Bach. (I think Beethoven will be next, thanks to Glenn Gould and Andràs Schiff.)
The most recent incarnation of BMG, where I bought my first cds back in middle school, closed at the end of June. They gave members several weeks’ warning and deals leading right up to the end, so I decided to take advantage. I’ve never known them to carry much in the way of indie rock or folk music; and I certainly wouldn’t get my Keren Ann or Carla Bruni fix there. But they usually have a decent enough variety of classical music, so I browsed through their whole classical section, period by period–Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. I found quite a lot that I’d recommend readily (links go to their Amazon product pages, since yourmusic.com is no more):
- A forceful album of Vivaldi violin concerti;
- A disc of Baroque string works by composers with whom I was wholly unfamiliar (but performed by Musica Antiqua Köln, whose album of Telemann flute quartets j’adore);
- Emerson String Quartet’s performance of Bach’s Art of Fugue;
- Schumann violin sonatas;
- Yundi Li’s album of Chopin scherzi and impromptus; and
- A wonderful flautist whose other albums I will seek out, in a two-disc set of Bach flute and harpsichord sonatas. Emmanuel Pahud’s performance is a bouyant delight, to the extent that this is my favorite of the albums I’ve named so far, in spite of the fact that I generally don’t care for harpsichord (I like legato, even a little, which harpsichord is incapable of). And in spite of the fact that I really, really love Vivaldi.
Finally, the most recent album to arrive, there is Dong Hyek Lim’s performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I gather from reviews that piano enthusiasts believe a pianist should be a good bit older than Lim is before he attempts the Goldberg Variations (he is not even a year older than me and recorded this work some three years ago).
As far as I can tell, youth did him no harm in this album; his playing is clean, breezy, and great fun to listen to. My favorite variation (youtube below) is the first one, which climbs, runs, and skips, always almost tripping over itself in its exuberance. It’s one of those pieces that gives you the impression that you are actually watching the notes dance over the piano as it plays, like little lightning bugs flashing in the air. It is like Debussy’s Arabesque #1 in that way, and this leaves me torn: now I don’t know which one I love more!
Here it is (the cd version has better editing and feels fuller, but this is still lovely, especially if you close your eyes and just listen). Please, enjoy. 🙂