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Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Takashi Harada, Royal Concertgebouw, Riccardo Chailly - Olivier Messiaen: Turangalila-Symphonie (1993)

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Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Takashi Harada, Royal Concertgebouw, Riccardo Chailly - Olivier Messiaen: Turangalila-Symphonie (1993)

Olivier Messiaen: Turangalîla-Symphonie (1993)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano; Takashi Harada, ondes martenot
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Chailly

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 358 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 175 Mb | Scans ~ 44 Mb
Genre: Classical | Label: Decca | # 436 626-2 | Time: 01:16:36

Along with Wit's Naxos recording, this is one of the best versions of Messiaen's phantasmagoric Turangalîla-Symphonie available, and it's very different: swifter, more obviously virtuosic in concept, perhaps a touch less warm in consequence, and engineered with greater “in your face” immediacy. The playing of the Concertgebouw, always a wonderful Messiaen orchestra, is stunning throughout. Chailly revels in the music's weirdness. The Ondes Martinot, for example, is particularly well captured. It's interesting how earlier performances tended to minimize its presence, perhaps for fear that is would sound silly, which of course it does, redeemed by the composer's utter seriousness and obliviousness to anything that smacks of humor. In any case, it's not all noise and bluster. The Garden of Love's Sleep is gorgeous, hypnotic, but happily still flowing, while the three Turangalîla rhythmic studies have remarkable clarity. Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays the solo piano part magnificently, really as well as anyone else ever has.

Claudio Arrau, RCO, Christoph von Dohnanyi - Edvard Grieg & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos (1989) [Re-Up]

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Claudio Arrau, RCO, Christoph von Dohnanyi - Edvard Grieg & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos (1989) [Re-Up]

Edvard Grieg & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos (1989)
Claudio Arrau, piano; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; Christoph von Dohnányi

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 304 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 181 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Philips | # 426 079-2 | Time: 01:06:55

Claudio Arrau recorded these concertos twice for Philips, the present performances in 1963, and then again in 1980 with Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony. There's very little to choose between them. Tempos are almost identical, and contrary to what one might expect, the slow movement of the Schumann concerto is actually a bit faster in the later version. Arrau's way with the music is wholly characteristic of the man: serious, even reverential (at the beginning of the Schumann), and played with drop-dead gorgeous tone. The result enhances the stature of both works, but the Grieg in particular. The climax of the finale has an epic grandeur without a hint of bombast that you simply won't find in any other performance. Dohnányi's accompaniments are also distinguished: he lets Arrau lead but isn't afraid to permit the orchestra to assert itself where necessary; and of course the playing of the Concertgebouw is top-notch. If you haven't heard Arrau in this music, it really doesn't matter which of his recordings you wind up with, but do try to get at least one of them.

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Myung-Whun Chung - Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet - Highlights (1994) [Re-Up]

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Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Myung-Whun Chung - Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet - Highlights (1994) [Re-Up]

Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet - Highlights (1994)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 228 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 146 Mb | Scans ~ 54 Mb
Genre: Classical | Label: Deutsche Grammophon | # 439 870-2 | Time: 01:03:22

Rather than play any single complete suite (of the three) that Prokofiev extracted from the complete ballet, Myung-Whun Chung makes his own selection of numbers, roughly following the plot line and including music representative of all the major characters. Although some other collections offer more music, this hour of Romeo and Juliet makes a satisfying presentation on its own. What makes the performance special is the spectacular playing of the Dutch orchestra. Frankly, it's never been done better. From the whiplash virtuosity of the violins to the bite of the trombones and the firm thud of the bass drum, this is the sound the composer must have dreamed of.