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Reviews Written by
W. J. Hendry "WJH" (England)

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Suites for the Harpsichord
Suites for the Harpsichord

4.0 out of 5 stars NFT (Normal for Toronto), 14 Dec. 2012
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By no means a standard performance and by no means a standard harpsichord. Gould recorded this session while his favourite Steinway was being repaired after being badly damaged - a story well told in
A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano
While it is true that pianists do not generally make the best-quality harpsichordists, and you can certainly hear the mechanism clattering throughout, Gould does make this instrument sing and dance. And a range of different sounds is used to excellent effect. This is hugely enjoyable playing.
Don't buy this disc if you are looking for a typical harpsichord disc, or a typical Handel disc (or even if you're looking for a typical Glenn Gould disc).
Do buy it if you want to hear some highly expressive keyboard wizardry.

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 14, 15, 17, 21-24 & 32
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 14, 15, 17, 21-24 & 32
Price: £7.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolf, sheep, clothing, 1 Jun. 2012
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From the packaging provided by Decca, you might assume that this was simply a pleasant collection of the major Beethoven piano sonatas. Nearly all the big hitters are in here, apart from the Pathetique and the Hammerklavier. The inside notes provide nothing more than a thumbnail of each sonata, concluding with "Friedrich Gulda, piano".
The notes that come out of the speakers, however, are stunningly rich in detail and emotional intensity.
Quiet parts, such as the opening movement of the Moonlight, creak with tension like a huge wall about to break. Mid-tempo pieces, such as the rippling arpeggios of the last movement of the Tempest, rise and fall while bringing out the song-like melody. Bursts of low-register Beethoven power-surges crash with dramatic agility through the outer movements of the Waldstein.
So this is Beethoven in breadth and depth, a vivid reminder that this man dynamited the existing musical world at the beginning of the nineteenth century with his new-fangled English pianoforte. Without losing the brains and heart that went before, he gave it lungs and loins, introspection and invincibility, viscera and virility, anger and honesty. And Gulda gives us the lot.
These performances have made me listen with new ears to Ashkenazy and (especially) Pollini play the late sonatas, to performances by Cherkassky and Brendel and anyone else I can get hold of.
It's worth noting that some of the movements are noticeably shorter than other performances. I assume that Gulda doesn't perform all the repetitions. But it's difficult to point out where, for example, in the first and last movement of the Appassionata this occurs - you just get catapulted away by the momentum of the playing. And by the end of that particular sonata, you'll understand why some irritatingly uncool people still stand up and shout "bravo" at the end of concert performances.
It's possible that if you like your Beethoven a little more restrained (I'm working hard here to find something to temper my enthusiasm), you'll find this too much. But the inescapable truth is that these are great performances of the very greatest piano music.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2016 11:28 AM GMT

Price: £21.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating, 7 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Etudes (Audio CD)
Not one but two different recordings of the Opus 10 and 25 preludes.
I found out about these courtesy of Elpenor's review on Amazon of a Murray Perahia recording - and Zayas' performances live up to that reviewer's lavish praise.
Originally bought as a present, I've listened repeatedly to the first set, which devours all 24 etudes (and a trio of extras) with youthful hunger and playfulness. I haven't done justice yet to the second set, which exhibits a little more caution. A quick check on the sleeve notes indicates that it takes quite a few more minutes to perform the whole set the second time around.
I'm not normally at home with the romantic repertoire, but this has won me over very quickly. There is storm, passion, quiet and rhapsody, all of which Zayas is able to transition between with ease and grace.
On sale at less than £12, you can safely take the risk of buying this little-known name. And even if there were no price advantage, this is exhilarating music-making.

Storia Di Un Minuto
Storia Di Un Minuto
Price: £8.26

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling argument for progressive rock, 6 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Storia Di Un Minuto (Audio CD)
For those of you who don't know, this is not only the finest Italian progressive rock disc, it is right at the peak of all progressive rock offerings.
1. The opening of Introduzione and Impressione di Settembre take you on a journey from brittle innocence to epic emotional power in a few minutes, incorporating a wonderfully memorable synthesizer line.
2. Overall, the instrumentation - acoustic and electric instruments and vocal harmonies blending like finely-judged watercolours - is unique and beautiful.
3. The musicianship is superb throughout: sensitive periods of quiet, big instrumental themes, playful flute, classical guitar, heavy rock rhythms and springy jazz waltz.
4. You can listen to individual songs or take in the whole thing in one sinuous rising-and-falling whole.
Forty years after its release, this still sounds fresh, youthful and inspired. It incorporates all the audacity and adventure that made progressive rock - briefly - so exciting.
Want to make a short list? Try naming prog discs that are better than this.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2014 9:56 AM BST

Suite Bergamasque / Arabesques
Suite Bergamasque / Arabesques

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joy and drama, 5 Oct. 2011
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This disc was my introduction to Debussy many decades ago. It sounds as fresh today on CD - better, in fact, without all the clicks and sizzles that spoil solo recitals on vinyl.
I don't know where this would stand against other interpreters of Debussy, but it works very well in its own right. Two of the most famous Debussy morsels are here: Clair de Lune and the Arabesque number 1 and Vasary plays them with all the lightness of touch they require. But the whole disc is very good; there is real joy and drama in the playing. Overall, this could have been an undemanding recital (for the listener), but it has some pretty vigorous moments. Hearing the opening piece from Pour le Piano again is like breathing lungfuls of fresh air.
Pretty close to being five stars.

Glenn Gould : The Alchemist [DVD] [2002] [NTSC]
Glenn Gould : The Alchemist [DVD] [2002] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Glenn Gould
Price: £15.99

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now he talks, now he plays, 20 Sept. 2010
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If you care about the music coming out of the speakers, then this scores highly: an excellent performance of the Berg sonata, for example.
If you are enchanted by Gould the character, then this scores highly. He clearly loves the sound of his own voice and the mechanics of his own arguments. And the interviewer lets him talk.
If you don't like Gould's eccentricity, his squeaky folding chair and consequently bizarre posture, his commitment to editing in the studio (which you see in action), then stay away.
I loved it from the moment he walked in the door at the beginning.

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