Japanese-British pianist Mitsuko Uchida continues to impress with recordings that are not so much intellectual as simply well thought out, making a challenging yet extremely satisfying overall impression. Consider the three works by Robert Schumann recorded here. Only the Waldszenen, Op. 82 (Forest Scenes), are well known. The Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, is an early but not immature work, composed in 1830 and supplied with a new finale in 1838 at the suggestion of Clara Schumann, who pointed out that while she could play the original version, few others would be able to.
Released in time for the great Ukrainian composer’s 80th birthday on September 30, Hieroglyphen der Nacht features Valentin Silvestrov’s music for solo violoncello and for two cellos. German cellist Anja Lechner has had a long association with Silvestrov, first documented on the Grammy-nominated leggiero, pesante in 2001. Here she plays, alone, Augenblicke der Stille und Traurigkeit (of which she is the dedicatee), Lacrimosa, Walzer der Alpengöckchen, and Elegie (which calls for her to play both cello and tamtams). Lechner is joined by French cellist Agnès Vestermann, a frequent duo partner, to play Drei Stücke (dedicated to both musicians), 8.VI. 1810…zum Geburtstag R.A. Schumann, Zwei Serenaden, and 25.X.1893…zum Andenken an P.I. Tschaikowskij.
Giulinis Mahler recordings are few but notable. The earliest is of the First Symphony, made in 1971 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a performance that seems to radiate from within, full of delicate colours and telling details as well as a strong sense of architecture. Giulini conducted the Ninth Symphony for the first time at Florence in November 1971 before performing it on a number of occasions in Chicago, where he made his famous Deutsche Grammophon recording of the work in 1976.
“Yet another outstanding entry in Capriccio’s heroic Kurt Weill series and a major hole in Weill's recorded catalogue plugged. Georg Kaiser, perhaps Weill's favorite German collaborator (the Brecht collaboration, although it produced terrific work, came with nettles and thorns), supplied the libretto, and Weill subtitled the piece an ‘opera buffa.’ However, as with Mozart, this hardly qualifies as a light-hearted romp. Indeed, it features the kind of humanistic ethical dilemma that attracted Weill again and again … kudos for a fine recording of a rarity.”