on 27 October 2008
I hesitated before buying this CD, having too often found Boulez a little too cold and clinical in this music. Now that I have bought it, I can't praise it enough. True, it lacks some of the emotional warmth of (both of) Brendel's recordings and Kubelik, in the latter of the two, finds a Romantic richness to this dark work. But Uchida and Boulez take a different and equally effective approach that is, for me, ethereal. There's no lack of passion, but at the same time there is a translucent quality to their playing, piano and orchestra wholly in sympathy with each other.
That ethereal quality really comes through in the solo pieces by Schoenberg and Webern, and a revelatory account of the Kleine Klavierstucke, op. 19. The Webern Variations are superb and if I say I prefer Zimerman's reading (part of Boulez's complete works of Webern on DG) that is not to deter anyone from buying this disc.
I had at first a slight reservation about Uchida's performances of the Berg, again finding it just a little lacking in warmth - Berg was always the most Romantic of these three - but Uchida finds much in this relatively short, but utterly dense piece, and the more I listen to it the more convinced I am that she's 'got it right', or at least has something very real and very personal to say about this music.
So, overall, a five star performance and I have only one complaint: that she didn't record the Suite, op.25 , or the op. 23 pieces, as well.
on 24 November 2008
The marvellous Hyperion recordings released recently of Romantic piano Concertos has been full of many hidden gems, but come the 20th century we find... very little. It is as if World War I put a stop to that 'style' of music. Thank goodness, then, that Schoenberg composed this piece. It is one of the few really good piano concertos to come out of the 20th century.
There is a strong feeling of a composer attempting to ressurect a form of the past, but it is indeed exhilerating music, quite ethereal as another reviewer has written. In the hands of Uchida and Boulez it becomes wonderful. Once I put the stereotype of 'atonal' music aside and once I embraced this particular type of music, I discovered myself really enjoying a quite different and beautiful sound world.
Uchida is equally good in the other works recorded here. The Berg sonata is full of strength and vigour whilst the other Schoenberg pieces are performed tenderly and with great understanding. For the Webern I really do prefer the Pollini recording. Uchida plays it rather differently: more hesitantly and softly, (nice in its own way) but I miss the stark purity of Pollini.