During the 2020 pandemic I’ve been contemplating my music library. This page concerns pianists and piano repertoire in the tradition of European Classical Music.
In three sections —
THE BEST OF THE BEST (LP edition)
THE PIANIST’S BOOKSHELF
MODERNISM ON COMPACT DISC
THE BEST OF THE BEST (LP edition)
My classical music LP collection used to be bigger, but CDs supplanted most of the standard repertoire.
However I’ve kept a certain number of piano LPs around. These all have a reason, or a story, or are somehow else just a fabulous thing.
The Artistry of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Heavy vinyl produced in the 50s and 60s was something different than later lightweight product. The tubes, the plastic, the pressing plants, the wood, the studio technicians, the piano technicians — and, yes, the pianists. Postwar optimism and the explosion of consumer culture did wonderful things for recorded music…
Michelangeli’s signature Galuppi sonata is the sort of thing you want to hear at the end of the world. Michelangeli doesn’t seem to play the piano, the sound just wafts into the air.
Richter Plays Schumann and Franck. Heavy vinyl. Schumann’s Humoreske was barely known until Sviatoslav Richter discovered it for modern audiences. You want to talk about your modernist pieces! The Humoreske doesn’t make sense unless you have a grotesque, occasionally almost military aesthetic. The rhythms are also exceedingly complex and the technical challenges formidable. Richter solves all interpretive issues. The Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue is more familiar and couldn’t be played any better than Richter here.
Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein, Beethoven and Bach. Heavy vinyl. Gould and Bernstein both loved jazz, and they both played Bach with a jazz-influenced beat. In their hands, this Bach D minor concerto is its own world, especially rhythmically.
This kind of motoric minor key Bach makes me think of early days in elementary school, with a film strip and accompanying dramatic cassette explaining the cosmos or the splitting of a cell. The generative force of all life.
The CD issue just doesn’t sound as good as the LP.
Gilels, Beethoven Fourth. Heavy vinyl. Kurt Sanderling conducts the Leningrad Philharmonic. If you made me choose just one piano concerto, I’d have to go with Beethoven 4. In this classic performance the musicians are rock solid, but nonetheless sound like they are discovering the work for the first time.
Alicia de Larrocha, Granados, Goyescas. This LP sounds better than my CD. A true miracle of interpretation; the score does not show the folk wisdom de Larrocha brings to the rhythmic feel. The older I get, the more impressed I am with the great Spanish composers.
Rudolf Serkin, Brahms, Handel Variations. György Ligeti said this was a desert island disc — not for the composition, but for the piano performance. This LP sounds considerably better than my CD.
The Art of Guiomar Novaes, Vol. 2. Not all tracks are available digitally. 1963, with extensive liner notes (perhaps a reprint of a profile) by Harold C. Schonberg. Novaes’s touch is from the era of Hofmann and Gabrilowitsch. The Saint-Saëns Caprice on Ballet Themes from Gluck’s Alceste is pure piano magic, especially in the final variation.
Cziffra, Lizst, A Virtuoso Piano Recital. As far as I know, unavailable digitally except possibly as part of a massive box set. Cziffra doesn’t seem to notice that what he is playing is actually technically impossible. He’s also musical, of course, the opening E major Polonaise thrills with a dancing, swinging beat.
I love the way the piano sounds in this all-analog scenario. There is natural compression: the full range is actually not all there in the image, but it still communicates a vast range of sound. The fortissimos rock you back in your chair.
Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano Music of Haydn. As far as I know, unavailable digitally except possibly as part of a massive box set. Occasionally Backhaus can be stiff but in Haydn he is perfect, his sternness offsets the strange phrases in an enchanting way. The Fantasia in C Major is my favorite Haydn piano piece, and what a sensational performance here.
Alexis Weissenberg, The Great Bach Transcriptions. As far as I know, unavailable digitally. A fierce pianist keeps everything in the right place for this landmark recital. The Bach/Liszt Prelude and Fugue in A minor is one of the my favorite things.
Walter Gieseking spielt Johannes Brahms. As far as I know, unavailable digitally except possibly as part of a massive box set. From 1951, so it’s one of earliest traversals of the smaller piano pieces, which as complete set were not popular to record before the LP era.
Gieseking’s rhythm isn’t accurate compared to more modern players — but who is closer to the source, Gieseking or a modern player?
Wilhelm Kempff, Franz Liszt, Deux Légendes. Kempff was not a big technician, he was best known for Schubert and Beethoven, but the pianism in St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds is famous. Brendel said something to the effect of, “Kempff plays things he can’t play.”
Casadesus and Szell, Mozart 21 and 24. A wonderful record, not least because of the unusual cadenzas: Casadesus’s own for C major, Saint-Saëns for C minor. Beautiful tone and balance from the pianist, and Szell was an extraordinary Mozart interpreter. This LP was originally recorded at the right time, the mid–’60s, but this is a later issue, not the original heavy vinyl a collector would demand. Still sounds great though.
Horowitz/Szell, 1953 live Tchaikovsky. The generic label says, “Penzance No. 17.” This is a memento from the old bootlegging days, when — if you knew the right people — they’d direct you to the appropriate automobile trunk, where a shifty-eyed character would offer you blank-faced LPs of Horowitz, Michelangeli, Richter, and Argerich live in concert. (It’s all on YouTube now, of course.) This is a famous performance, Harold Schonberg wrote about it in one of the Horowitz books. I don’t love this piece but when Horowitz is all the way there — like he certainly is here — I’d listen to him play anything.
Claudio Arrau, Liszt incl. Gnomenreigen. When I first got this I listened to Gnomenreigen over and over. I’ve since heard plenty of other great versions of this famous etude but something about Arrau’s pacing and articulation still blows me away.
Liszt is a good gateway into romantic piano music because his forms are so obvious. They are meant to be understood at first listen.
Earl Wild, The Daemonic Liszt. David Dubal says this was Wild’s best LP. It’s certainly appealing playing, although the engineering is not overwhelmingly attractive. I saw Wild’s 80th and 90th birthday concerts at Carnegie Hall.
Ashkenazy Plays Chopin. Somehow I got this near-bootleg LP very early, maybe I was ten or eleven years old. It was my first exposure to famous things like the Op. 10 no. 1 etude and the Heroic Polonaise. The concert performance is from the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1955: As a more seasoned listener, I still gasp at the young Ashkenazy’s bravura.
Ivo Pogorelich spielt Frédéric Chopin. Recorded in Warsaw 1980, at a concert that was hastily arranged after a controversial Chopin Competition. The details of the dust-up are given in the extensive liner notes. The playing is naturally extraordinary, and freer than Pogorelich’s DG studio records.
Edwin Fischer, Schumann and Brahms. Fischer is best known for historical Bach performances that are still relevant today. This LP of large scale romantic works is not as acclaimed (the recording is also pretty dim), but it is interesting to hear the maestro’s reasonably straight-forward approach to music that had few previous traversals on wax.
Charles Rosen, Liszt and Bartók. Rosen’s outstanding criticism was more durable than his pianism. The best single Rosen LP I’ve heard is this wonderful virtuoso recital, which has passionate drive and excellent engineering. Naturally, the notes are also valuable.
Simon Barere, The Complete HMV recordings 1934-36. This was my first “historical” classical piano recording, documenting the idiosyncratic approach of musicians who did not grow up listening to records. Barere’s virtuosity, nobility, and casual relationship to the score kickstarted my interest in the other early masters: Josef Hofmann, Ignaz Friedman, and the rest.
Marc-André Hamelin told me that while he used to admire Barere’s Schumann Toccata, now he thought it was just too fast.
Barere had a famous death: He played the opening salvo of the Grieg concerto next to Eugene Ormandy in Carnegie Hall and then keeled over. A good way to go.
Paul Jacobs, Piano Etudes by Bartók, Busoni, Messiaen, Stravinsky. Another key LP in my development. The first time I heard Bartók op. 18 that was it: Game, set, and match. The Busoni set is less familiar but these lyrical Polyphonic Etudes are still some of my favorite Busoni pieces as well.
I collected the whole series of Jacobs LPs on Nonesuch: What a wonderful survey of offbeat and intriguing music, all of it programmed and played impeccably by Jacobs.
This great pianist sadly died young, an early victim of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Unlike Barere above, not a good way to go.
Natalie Hinderas plays Sensuous Piano Music. Mark Stryker sent me this rarity a few years ago. Hinderas played George Walker and other African-American composers, a shared interest between Stryker and myself. The “Sensuous” title of this recital is an unpromising marketing ploy, but the pianism is stunning, with terrific account of the Mephisto Waltz and a soulful Berg Sonata. The inclusion of Saint-Georges speaks to the pianist’s larger message.
Wanda Maximilien, Dallapiccola and Moevs. The other black pianist in this collection is Maximilien, a crucial collaborator of Ralph Shapey and Irwin Bazelon. The “easy” 12-tone work in all the theory books is Dallapiccola’s lyrical Quaderno musicale di Annalibera. It’s a lovely listen, but I’m even more impressed by Dallapiccola’s Sonata Canonica on Paganini Caprices. Both are played to the hilt by Maximilien. I like the Robert Moevs pieces too, they are tough stuff but still obviously very musical.
Paula Ennis-Dwyer, New Dimensions, Music by Women. Ennis-Dwyer got a rave in the New York Times for her 1981 debut in Carnegie Recital Hall, but this exceptional LP seems to be her only solo recording. It’s a knockout with two durable pieces, Miriam Gideon’s Of Shadows Numberless and Nancy Van de Vate’s Second Sonata.
Leonid Hambro plays Charles Tomlinson Griffes. Hambro was associated with Victor Borge, but he also plays the faux-Oriental Piano Sonata with wonderful rhythm and great compassion. I’ve since heard other records of this near-masterpiece but Hambro was my first and still my favorite. I love the sound of this undated LP as well…I’m guessing early 60s? Might have to give this the “heavy vinyl from the golden age” award as well.
George Bennette plays Ben Weber and Nikos Skalkottas. Similarly charismatic is this obscure Desto LP. Skalkottas is a wonderful composer, possessing something of Greek folk dance but with advanced chromatic harmony. Weber’s Fantasia is almost in the active repertoire (one of the few mid-century American pieces to have that distinction) and this might be the first recording. Bennette contributes scholarly notes and plays the music at the highest level. Bennette was also blind.
David Burge plays New Piano Music. Burge was visible and influential as an advocate for modernist music both as a critic and performer. I love this reading of the Wourinen Varitations; other repertoire on this specialty item included George Crumb, Salvatore Martirano, George Rochberg, and Burge’s own Eclipse II.
Frank Glazer plays American Music. Excellent recordings of the best piano pieces by Harold Shapero (D major Sonata) and Norman Dello Joio (Sonata No. 3) made when the scores were comparatively new. Indeed, this is probably the first recording of both.
Beveridge Webster, Modern American Piano Music. First recording of Sessions No. 2 and the Carter Sonata. Younger generations may have tracked more relaxed and charismatic performances, but this LP will always have classic status. Webster did a lot for modern music; his record of the Talma etudes is also notable.
Robert Helps played by William Masselos, David Del Tredici, and Robert Helps. Helps’s own performance of Quartet is in the pantheon of greatest documents of the composer as performer. I took a memorable lesson with Helps, so this LP is “in the family.”
Hilde Somer plays Corigliano and Strauss. Parergon To The Sinfonia Domestica (For Piano Left Hand And Orchestra) is a striking piece, quite unexpected, with abstract piano recitative over glorious Straussian harmonies. If this work were for both hands, it would be in the active repertoire. The enjoyable Corigliano concerto was premiered by Somer, who is full of fire and brimstone in both virtuoso pieces.
THE PIANIST’S BOOKSHELF
Heinrich Neuhaus, The Art of Piano Playing. A helpful book from the most legendary Russian piano teacher.
John Gillespie, Five Centuries of Keyboard Music. Dated overall, but it is still interesting to read a 1965 publication on the topic of what was then new music from 1920-1950.
Jeremy Nicholas, Godowsky: The Pianists’s Pianist. For a few years I had a serious love affair with Godowsky’s aesthetic. Nicholas understands the topic.
David Dubal, The Art of the Piano: Its Performers, Literature, and Recordings. A crucial document, a template for DTM. Indeed, I no longer really need my copy as I have the book more or less memorized.
David Dubal, Reflections From the Keyboard. Dubal’s other essential book is the template for the DTM interviews.
Elyse Mach, Great Contemporary Pianists Speak for Themselves. Mach’s terrific series omits her voice from the conversation — something that I perhaps should have done more of on DTM…
Glenn Gould, Variations (by Himself and His Friends). The chapter on teacher Alberto Guerrero by fellow student John Beckwith is especially interesting, it explains a few things about Gould’s famous sonority, especially the technique of “finger tapping.”
Maurice Hinson, A Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire. A big book, a huge labor of love. I chased down many scores thanks to Hinson’s capsule descriptions.
Maurice Hinson, Music for Piano and Orchestra. More love from someone who never tired of collecting scores to piano music. Hinson rarely oversteps his bounds or makes definitive judgments, but he does give one a sense of what’s out there to explore. Before the internet, assembling this information was a true public service.
Albert Faurot, Concert Piano Repertoire. I heard about this book from George Walker. Amazing unconventional opinions; a laugh-out loud read.
Nell S. Graydon and Margaret D. Sizemore, The Amazing Marriage of Marie Eustis and Josef Hofmann. Hofmann is one of the all-time greats; this unusual 1965 book is based on the diaries of his wife.
Kenneth Hamilton, After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Performance. A smart and sensible book that should have been widely influential, documenting the era when musicians treated a score as a friendly companion to performance — rather than as a unseeing, unhearing, all-powerful god.
David Burge, Twentieth-Century Piano Music. Important guide by a major practitioner. Many musical examples.
Dagmar Godowsky, First Person Plural. Hilarious memoir from Leopold’s daughter.
Jonathan Cott, Conversations with Glenn Gould. An important early book for me, I read it over and over. Gould’s comments on Schnabel remain significant to my daily internal discourse.
Josef Hofmann, Piano Playing: With Piano Questions Answered. The most valuable section offers amusing tales of studying with Anton Rubinstein. In general, I suspect that the greatest child prodigies do not make the best teachers.
Josef Lhevinne, Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing. Lhevinne was a great pianist. He starts with a long sermon on rhythm, which in my opinion is the best part of the book. As with the Hofmann above, I’m somewhat skeptical about the broadsides on tone and technique. (Of course, who am I to be critical of Hofmann or Lhevinne!?!?)
Oscar Levant, A Smattering of Ignorance. Hilarious and learned, and a primary source for Gershwin scholars.
Oscar Levant, The Unimportance of Being Oscar. A much later and darker book, still funny, with many dubious opinions.
Harold C. Schonberg, Horowitz: His Life and Music. Excellent biography from a true lover of piano music.
David Dubal, Remembering Horowitz: 125 Pianist Recall a Legend. A huge book, brilliant in concept and execution. A quote from Earl Wild: “Vladimir Horowitz was the only pianist I ever asked for an autograph.”
Abram Chasins, Speaking of Pianists. Charming collection of profiles from someone on the inside. Chasins was a wonderful pianist himself, a fact rather underplayed by the author here. Thanks to Neal Kurz for finally letting me hear Chasins play the Chopin A-flat Ballade.
Mark Mitchell and Allan Evans, Moriz Rosenthal in Words and Music: A Legacy of the Nineteenth Century. An intriguing if unfulfilling collection of diary notes and reviews. Rosenthal remains one of my favorites on record.
Robert Rimm, Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and the Eight. Valuable insights into Hamelin; other topics include Alkan, Busoni, Feinberg, Godowsky, Medtner, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Sorabji.
Joesph Horowitz, Conversations with Arrau. Another significant early acquisition; I found all the records discussed and tried to learn what the conversations were all about. This book is still a model of its kind.
Paul Badura-Skoda, Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard. Badura-Skoda was a major pianist, and this big book is an example of “real world” musicology. His prose style is admittedly persnickety at times, but, still, some amazing insights.
Abby Whiteside on Piano Playing (contains Indispensables of Piano Playing and Mastering the Chopin Etudes and Other Essays). We are on home turf, for I studied with Sophia Rosoff, who not only worked with Whiteside but co-edited (perhaps even co-wrote) Mastering the Chopin Etudes with Joseph Prostakoff. However, I don’t exactly recommend this book unless you also have someone in person to demonstrate the Whiteside principles.
Denis Matthews, Brahms Piano Music. Small but enlightening companion to the oeuvre. Matthews was an excellent pianist.
Charles Rosen, Piano Notes: The World of the Pianist. As always, interesting insights from one of the foremost American writers on music. However Rosen was not absolutely comfortable as a performer — the one time I saw him live it was disappointing — and this slim volume ranks nowhere near as high as The Classical Style or The Romantic Generation.
Frank Conroy, Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls on. This collection of disparate essays is on this part of shelf simply because it has a long profile of Peter Serkin.
Louis Kenter, Piano (a Yehudi Menuhin Music Guide). Kenter was a great pianist and a solid composer. Tart and humorous book filled with memorable passages.
James Methuen-Campell, Chopin Playing From the Composer to the Present Day. When I was first learning about the repertoire, this long and an opinionated screed made a formidable impression. I searched out many LPs to hear what Methuen-Campell was talking about.
Bruno Monsaingeon, Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations. One of the best books on music I’ve ever read. Richter’s voice is both Olympian and humane, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.
Karl Aage Rasmussen, Sviatoslav Richter, Pianist. Biography, includes moderately interesting scandals etc.
Stephen Lehmann and Marian Faber, Rudolf Serkin: A Life. Readable biography, also much information about American institutions like Curtis and Marlboro.
Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Pianists, from Mozart to the Present. A lovely book, perfect for someone just starting to learn about the legends. Not all of Schonberg’s opinions are correct.
Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History. A sardonic look at the timeline from the beginnings to 1954. Loesser was an important and excellent professional pianist who performed the whole canon from Bach to now-obscure mid-century American composers. It’s impressive that he had the time and interest to research such a huge and detailed book intended for the general market.
Allan Evans, Ignaz Friedman: Romantic Master Pianist. Evans produced the first set of the complete Friedman recordings on CD and much later published this important biography. In the end, like many others, I love Hofmann and Friedman most.
MODERNISM ON COMPACT DISC
This is a real grab-bag; plenty of things are filed on another shelf, grouped either with pianists playing standard rep (Pollini etc) or with composers (Adès).
Jeremy Denk plays Ligeti and Beethoven. A contemporary giant affirms Ligeti’s central place in the repertoire.
Fredrik Ullen plays Ligeti. Benoît Delbecq told me years ago how impressed he was with Ullen in this repertoire. There have been many newer recordings; I haven’t heard them all, but I suspect Ullen for me will always have the last word. One of the greatest piano CDs of all time.
Nicolas Hodges plays Harrison Birtwistle. I’d put “Harrison’s Clocks” in with the Ligeti as the most essential modernist composition for piano at the end of the 20th century. Together, Ligeti and Birtwistle have final word on abrasive mechanical virtuosity in the analog era, before the human race migrated to digital and everything evened out.
Hodges is generally amazing. (There’s a good record by Joanna MacGregor as well.)
Eliza Garth plays Donald Martino. Provocative and difficult music with one exception, the amusing Suite in Old Form.
Charles Rosen plays Elliott Carter. Canonical performances by a friend and advocate.
Yegor Shevtsov plays Boulez and Debussy. Yegor is my friend but this is still a great disc!
Vivien Harvey Slater plays Arthur Shepherd. Obscure American composer from the 20s.
Marilyn Nonken, American Spiritual. Exceptionally well-produced and well-played document of Jason Eckardt. Jeff Nichols, Michael Finnissy, and Milton Babbitt. Nonken’s Allegro Penseroso is the single most glamorous Babbitt performance I know.
Russell Sherman, Premieres and Commissions. Includes great works by Gunther Schuller, George Perle, Robert Helps, and especially Ralph Shapey: the Shapey Sonata Profundo is a touchstone.
Leo Smit plays Alexei Haieff. Lesser (but still fun) mid-century Americana.
John Perry, New American Masterworks. Music by Paul Cooper, Samuel Jones, and Donald Keats. Cooper’s Sinfonia is indeed a masterpiece.
John Hendrickson plays the complete solo piano music of Paul Cooper. An important collection, although the Sinfonia remains the winner.
Rob Schwimmer, Heart of Hearing. I wrote the liner notes for my friend. Great record. Some things have improvisation, but others are fantasies worked out like Liszt or Godowsky.
Michael Boriskin, The Equal-Tempered Lou Harrison. Important collection, but Harrison’s best work required other forces than solo piano. (The early Schoenberg-ian Suite is astonishing when considered in context of mature Harrison.)
Kristi Becker and Pi-hsien Chen, piano works of York Höller. Chen plays the Piano Sonata No. 2 “Homage to Franz Liszt,” one of the best sonatas of that vintage (1986).
Margaret Mills, Contemporary Piano Works by Elizabeth Lauer, Richard Wilson, Miriam Gideon, Anthony Newman. I’m looking for the score to Lauer’s biting Sonatina if anyone has a copy…
Nöel Lee plays Nöel Lee. Amusing and colorful works by a masterful pianist and composer; should be better known.
Robert Helps plays Roger Session. I was at this concert performance of Sessions 2 along with Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Garrick Ohlsson, and Alfred Brendel.
David Tudor, Piano Avant-Garde. 1956-1960 recordings of Cage, Cardew, Evangelisti, Nilsson, Pousseur, and Wolff. A tough listen but historically important. I attended the Tudor memorial at Judson Church where Merce Cunningham gave a beautiful eulogy.
Barry David Salwen, Complete piano works of Roger Sessions. For a time I was really engaged by this repertoire, I’ve listened to Salwen and others play Sessions a lot. An attractive CD.
Copland Before the LP. Amazing performance of the Piano Variations played by the composer.
Frederic Rzewski, North American Ballad and Squares. Wonderful compositions and performance, a big influence on my aesthetic.
Frederic Rzewski plays Cornelius Cardew, We Sing for the Future! Strange sounds, tonal, not much happens (Marxist music?), but Rzewski improvises great cadenzas.
Ursula Oppens, American Piano Music of Our Time (Two Volumes). Oppens was the voice of a generation. Essential.
Henry Cowell plays Henry Cowell. Wonderful record, still fresh, great performances.
Eugen D’Albert plays Eugen D’Albert. A love-letter from a distant past.
Piers Lane plays Eugen D’Albert. D’Albert’s bigger works are inessential, but Lane is great and gives the pompous F-sharp minor Sonata high finish.
Alexandra Oehler plays Eugen D’Albert. Better is D’Albert’s Opus 1, a suite in old style. Not a masterwork but worth hearing.
Peter Serkin plays Toru Takemitsu. Basic library item.
Peter Serkin plays Stravinsky, Wolpe, Lieberson. Basic library item.
Márta and György Kurtag, Jatékok. Amusing piano “games” and beautiful Bach transcriptions.
Per Salo plays Per Nørgård. The impressive early Sonata No. 2 is somewhat neo-classic, later works include process techniques.
Jean Louis Steuerman plays Othmar Schoeck. I have a soft spot for Schoeck, who took the Max Reger template into more relaxed and creative territory. Music for solo piano was not Schoeck’s most durable contribution.
Jeffery Burns, Universe by Gerald Humel. At some point I vow to explore this extraordinary work further. Surely one of the finest piano works from the 1980s.
Alexei Lubimov, Messe Noire. Highly polished and attractive renditions of Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Scriabin.
Timo Andres plays Timo Andres. The first two Nonesuch discs are a window into the contemporary American aesthetic. Andres is also a wonderful pianist. Of the Andres I’ve heard, I particularly like “At the River,” which brings Ives into the post-minimalist aesthetic. “At the River” is not on CD…and perhaps therefore gives an indication of how hard it is to organize the endless flow of information in the digital age.
Lera Auerbach, Preludes and Dreams. Fascinating Russian composer works in the tradition of Shostakovich and Schnittke. Auerbach is a stunning pianist as well. One of the most important 21st Century piano records so far. At some point I want to do an overview of Auerbach, I really connect to what she’s about.
David Holzman plays Sessions and Shapey. Great music played by a fearless advocate.
Geoffrey Burleson plays Arthur Berger. Not all the music is memorable but the One-Part Inventions are perfect.
Natalie Hinderas, Piano Music of African-American Composers. Historically important survey; interesting to compare her take on Walker no. 1 with the composer himself.
Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen, Powerhouse Pianists. Biscardi, Hyla, Moe, Gosfield, Tsontakis, Townsend, Nancarrow, Tower, Rakowski, Zuplo. Produced by American Modern Ensemble. Extensive notes, a valuable survey.
C. Curtis Smith, Twelve Etudes. Amazing composer and performer, should be better known.
Max Lifchitz plays American Piano Music. Deimer, Shaffer, Bazelon, Greenberg, De la Vega, Strunk, and Quilling. Extensive notes, a valuable survey.
Randall Hodgkinson plays Sessions and Martino. Well-produced recording, my favorite Sessions 2.
Ursula Oppens, Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano. Etude-Fantasy is Corigliano’s best solo work.
Jade Simmons, Revolutionary Rhythm. Music by Barber, Corigliano, and premieres of Russell Pinkston and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Simmons is a terrific pianist and should be more active. This recording is from 2008; the world might not have been ready for her then, but now’s the time.
I’ve posted Simmons playing Tania León before:
Thomas Warburton, Piano Music of William Albright. Important collection. Some of the selections are simply too eclectic, but the Grand Sonata in Rag is surprisingly successful and well worth hearing.
Huw Watkins plays Alexander Goehr, Symmetry Disorders Reach. Fifteen strikingly attractive pieces, tonality undone from inside. Possibly a masterpiece.
Nicolas Hodges, Nocturnes, complete piano works 1994-2001 of Salvatore Sciarrino. My pal Miranda Cuckson plays the Sciarrino violin music so beautifully. Deep stuff. Not sure what I think about the solo piano music yet…
Michael Boriskin, works by Irving Fine, Gian Carlo Menotti, Carl Ruggles, and Harold Shapero. A basic library item.
Dohnányi plays Dohnányi, Recorded 1926-1956. Interesting listen; with many telling details in terms of an authentic approach.
Foss plays Foss. It’s all about Solo, a wild late mash-up of atonality and minimalism.
Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays Late Works of Elliott Carter. Concertos and chamber music. Still need to listen to this.