This week’s classical selection is brought to you by the keyboard (at a bit of a stretch): a Saint-Saëns CD featuring both the organ and two pianos, a symphony composed by a virtuoso pianist, and a compilation of works performed on the tangent piano (a bit of a rarity).
Carnival of the Animals, Organ Symphony, Saint-Saëns. Performed by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano.
“Saint-Saëns briefly paused work on his Third Symphony for a holiday in Austria, during which the whimsy of his Carnival of the Animals was born. Yet these two works – from the very same year in the composer’s life – could not be more different, and make a dramatic coupling showing two sides of a singular genius. Martha Argerich and Antonio Pappano celebrate an enduring friendship with this tribute, grand and tongue-in-cheek, to Saint-Saëns” (back cover).
Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninov. Performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
A live recording of Rachmaninov’s first symphony (composed when he was 22) performed last year at the Royal Festival Hall in London, this work is receiving rave reviews. Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist and conductor extraordinaire, was recently interviewed by Presto Classical about the recording, and his thoughts on Rachmaninov and the Philharmonia Orchestra here.
Tangere, C.P.E. Bach. Performed by Alexei Lubimov.
“Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is the rare artist who has been a trailblazer in two directions, both a champion of new music (from Cage to Silvestrov) and a dedicated interpreter of Baroque music with a passion for period instruments. In this remarkable reading of music by CPE Bach, Lubimov responds to the inventiveness of the composer’s fantasies, sonatas and rondos by making full creative use of the sonorities of the tangent piano. Briefly popular in the early 18th century, the tangent piano (whose strings are struck from beneath by wood or metal tangents and allowed to vibrate) offered greater expressiveness and intensity than the harpsichord” (amazon.com).