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Music We Love Now: Three Must-Hear Piano Albums

Ingolf Wunder pays tribute to 300 years of keyboard music on his new album 300. i i

hide captionIngolf Wunder pays tribute to 300 years of keyboard music on his new album 300.

Patrick Walter
Ingolf Wunder pays tribute to 300 years of keyboard music on his new album 300.

Ingolf Wunder pays tribute to 300 years of keyboard music on his new album 300.

Patrick Walter

The young Austrian pianist Ingolf Wunder shines in Mozart, Jorge Federico Osorio reintroduces an intoxicating Mexican concerto and Elisveta Blumina reveals the gentle side of Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov.

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Elisaveta Blumina plays Silvestrov's piano music.

Valentin Silvestrov: Naive Music - 'Idyll'

  • Artist: Elisaveta Blumina
  • Album: Silvestrov: Piano Works

As a member of the so-called "Kiev avant-garde," the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov had a tough time getting his music heard in the conservative Soviet era. But in the 1980s, as his reputation spread, performances began piling up outside his native land. Today, Silvestrov might be best known for his radiant choral songs and his Fifth Symphony, often compared to Mahler, but in recent years he's concentrated on simple piano miniatures. Pianist Elisveta Blumina's enjoyable new album sports several world premiere recordings, including Naïve Music, a set of seven short pieces Silvestrov wrote in the 1950s and revised 40 years later. "Idyll" unfolds innocently in sunny arppegios, hovering over a simple tune until a counter melody takes over and the cycle gently restarts.

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  • "Naive Music - 'Idyll'"
  • Album: Silvestrov: Piano Works
  • Artist: Elisaveta Blumina
  • Label: Grand Piano
 
Ingolf Wunder plays music from three centuries.

Mozart: Sonata in B-flat, K.333 - 'Allegretto grazioso'

  • Artist: Ingolf Wunder
  • Album: 300

Ingolf Wunder's new album is brought to you by the number 300. It represents the three-century span of keyboard literature,from Scarlatti to John Williams, Wunder chose for this album. It also coincides with the 28-year-old Austrian pianist's 300th performance this season. Wunder came to the piano late (at 14) but has made up for lost time, snagging second prize at the 2010 Chopin Competition. On 300, the playing is assured, elegant and appropriately pyrotechnical in show-stoppers like Moszkowski's Étincelles and Arcadi Volodos' arrangement of Mozart's Rondo "Alla Turca." But it's the unadorned Mozart Sonata in B-flat, K. 333 that reveals Wunder's real gift, a limpid, unforced melodic line filled with charm. Wunder's name means miracle in German — an apt moniker for playing this wunderbar.

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  • "Sonata in B-flat, K.333 - 'Allegretto grazioso'"
  • Album: 300
  • Artist: Ingolf Wunder
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Released: 2013
 
Piano music of Carlos Chávez.

Carlos Chávez: Piano Concerto - 'Largo non troppo - Allegro agitato'

  • Artist: Jorge Federico Osorio
  • Album: Carlos Chavez: Piano Concerto

Our southern neighbors have a distinguished classical music tradition too, with no composer more celebrated than Carlos Chávez. Largely self-taught, Chavez almost single-handedly created a national sound for Mexico. This new album spotlights Chavez's Piano Concerto from 1940, a rich example of his signature blend of Western traditions with exotic rhythms and scales evoking his beloved pre-Columbian culture. The opening movement is a bustling hive of sweeping strings, folk-like percussion and episodes for the piano that range from romantic to virtuosic to jazz-inflected. Pianist Jorge Federico Osorio's fingers are almost constantly in motion and conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto expertly guides this wonderful and unwieldy piece with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, the ensemble Chavez founded in 1947.

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  • "Piano Concerto - 'Largo'"
  • Album: Carlos Chavez: Piano Concerto
  • Artist: Jorge Federico Osorio
  • Label: Cedille Records
  • Released: 2013
 

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