New Releases: Stewart Goodyear, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Stephanie & Saar

Sunday, June 22, 2014

FREE Download: Duo Stephanie & Saar perform the third movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 (Op. 18, No. 6)*

The piano takes center stage in this week's batch of new releases. Stewart Goodyear plays two key Romantic concertos, Duo Stephanie & Saar play Beethoven transcriptions, and violinist Anne Sophie Mutter celebrates her partnership with pianist Lambert Orkis.

Beethoven Dialogues
Duo Stephanie and Saar
New Focus Recordings
Available at Amazon.com

The husband-and-wife team of Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia – Duo Stephanie and Saar for short – have made a name for their thoughtful, resourceful programming. Their third album together is a case in point, devoted to four-hand arrangements of Beethoven's early string quartets, the Opus 18 cycle (Nos. 1, 4 and 6). The transcriptions, by Hugo Ulrich and Robert Wittmann, help us hear Beethoven’s writing in a fresh new light. Dense textures breathe anew, bold harmonic shifts are more exposed and melodies and counter-melodies are clarified.

Live Performance: The duo will be performing music from the album at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, June 29 at 7:30 pm.

Stewart Goodyear, piano
Tchaikovsky & Grieg Piano Concertos
Steinway & Sons
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear writes in the liner notes to this album that Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto was introduced to him by way of a compilation album of classical music's greatest hits. Perhaps acknowledging its "warhorse" stature, Goodyear is intent on breathing some fresh air into this time-honored work and he does so with numerous details in his interpretation, from the brisk tempos to some stirring accents. The almost equally popular Grieg Concerto is full of high spirits as well, and comes with an impressively executed cadenza. This is the first orchestral recording on the piano-oriented Steinway & Sons label.

Live Performance: Goodyear will perform the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas at Bargemusic over four installments this summer. The second program is Sunday, June 29 at 4 pm.

The Silver Album
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Lambert Orkis, piano
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at Arkivmusic.com

This two-CD set celebrates Anne-Sophie Mutter's 25-year partnership with her accompanist Lambert Orkis, and spans a range of pieces, from core sonatas to encores, party pieces and two premieres. What's remarkable is the consistency of their playing over this time. The earliest recordings here are a 1995 traversal of Brahms's Hungarian Dances and a 1998 live version of Beethoven's Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2. These are judiciously mixed with world-premiere recordings of Previn's Sonata No. 2 and Penderecki's 10-part La Follia for solo violin, both substantial works which Mutter has undoubtedly spent time with. Ravel's Pièce en forme de Habañera and the Meditation from Thais by Massenet are also given fresh new treatments.

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Comments [1]

John Blasdale from Whippany NJ

I find your "Beethoven Dialogues" CD one of the more disappointing of your choices for "Album of the Week". The first two movements I heard -- finales of the Quartets op. 18 nos. 4 & 1 -- were simply too slow to be interesting. Maybe a piano duo cannot perform those movements as fast as a String Quartet can; a String Quartet can comfortably attain the speed that Beethoven indicated.
Indeed, I have several times been disappointed with your choices of "Albums of the Week", especially those presenting arrangements. In particular, I felt that the arrangements played by the Canadian Brass of Schumann's piano works (e.g., 'Canaval') were a total miscalculation; Schumann simply did not arrange idiomatically for brass.
I would honestly prefer it if you generally avoid such arrangements in future.

Jun. 27 2014 04:19 PM

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The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.

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