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A Survey of Mozart Piano Sonata Cycles

Discographies on ionarts: Bach Organ Cycles | Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX | Bruckner Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Shostakovich Symphony Cycles | Sibelius Symphony Cycles | Mozart Keyboard Sonata Cycles

02/11/2016: A-J are finished... the rest, from Walter Klien to Christian Zacharias, will be added over the next weeks.

01/29/2016: There are several new discographic entries under work. Mahler Symphony Cycles, almost obviously. Ditto Nielsen and Martinů as well as Bartók and Shostakovich String Quartet cycles. They just take so much darn time and even then they are rarely complete or mistake free. Neither will this one be, and every such post is also a plea to generously inclined readers with more information and knowledge of the subject than I have to lend a helping hand correcting my mistakes or filling data-lacunae. (I.e. will Yuko Hisamoto’s begun cycle be finished? Are there new, available editions of formerly hard-to-find sets?) I am grateful for any such pointers, hinters, and corrections.

Because I lack consistent data for when these cycles were recorded (I need the date of the earliest and the last included recording), I will list the sets alphabetically for now. As (or if) I gather enough information, I will want to set it up chronologically or else that only pianists with "Z" in the name continue to record.

Like the Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle Survey, this is a mere "inventory" of what has been recorded and whether it is still available. Favorites are denoted with the "ionarts' choice" graphic. >Unlike with earlier surveys, I will give each (meaningful) iteration of a cycle its own space, rather than listing only to the most recent re-issue. This is partly because with cycles going in and out of print, more than one may be available, depending on your location prices might differ, and perhaps most of all so that we can marvel at the covers and how they have evolved. (And remember: Ah, this is the one I have.) If cycles of one pianist are not given a differing roman numeral, then they are identical to all those that share that (lack of) numeral, even if they are on entirely different labels. Prices are approximate, reflect the situation on the secondary market, and are taken from AmazonUS.

Latest on Forbes: NSO, Eschenbach & Lang Lang hit Vienna

Washington's National Symphony And Lang Lang In Vienna

...BA-Dam!! Christopher Rouse rips the score of his 1986 8- or 9-minute symphonic overture open with a loud, butts-from-seats-jolting chord before plinking and plonging away, harp-supported, and moving on with great gaiety in the woodwind section. The tuba engages in sounds that would make juveniles giggle; the neglected strings are allowed a word in, edgewise, here and there. Eventually the music works up an appetite and goes through more notes than the Cookie Monster through Oreos. Me want demisemiquaver!...

The full article on


La Piau Goes to Washington

available at Amazon
Après un rêve, S. Piau, S. Manoff
(Naïve, 2011)
Charles T. Downey, French soprano Sandrine Piau makes stunning D.C. debut
Washington Post, February 9
Sandrine Piau made her long overdue Washington debut on Sunday afternoon, and the Phillips Collection, celebrating its 75th anniversary season, got the glory. The French soprano’s excellent program of 19th-century songs, superbly accompanied by pianist Susan Manoff, was the latest sign of the ascendancy of the Phillips concert series, which has become one of the strongest in the city.

Manoff and Piau recorded many of these songs on their 2011 CD, “Après un rêve.” The qualities that set Piau’s voice apart on disc were, if anything, more pronounced live... [Continue reading]
Sandrine Piau (soprano) and Susan Manoff (piano)
Phillips Collection

Charles T. Downey, Briefly Noted: Sandrine Piau (Ionarts, November 1, 2011)


Mel Brooks on ‘Blazing Saddles’

The movies of Mel Brooks have long been a guilty pleasure of mine, none more than Blazing Saddles. One must be careful, however, when quoting or even referring to the film, because politically correct sensitivities have eroded some people’s sense of humor. In Blazing Saddles, Brooks has his characters say the things that are better left unsaid, making fun of racists, homophobes, sexists, and other small-minded people by blasting open the dam that holds back vile talk and sentiments. No trigger warnings here: you are going to hear what people really think.

Brooks is still going strong at almost 90, as he showed when he appeared at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Saturday night, in a Q&A session after a screening of Blazing Saddles. Truth be told, there were relatively few questions in this part of the event, mostly just Brooks sharing memories of how the film came to be made, in a rather delightful, slightly manic monologue.

Even people who know Blazing Saddles well may be surprised to learn that Brooks had wanted Richard Pryor to play the role of Sheriff Bart. The insurance company balked, because of Pryor’s problems with addiction, but the film is still partly Pryor’s work, through the writing he contributed to the screenplay. “All of the uses of the N-word,” Brooks said at one point, “were approved by Richard.” This sounds like retroactive butt-covering on Brooks’s part, but Richard Pryor, who died in 2005, could not be reached for comment. More surprising is that Brooks approached John Wayne for the film, possibly to take the role of the Waco Kid, which Gene Wilder eventually played. Brooks said that Wayne read the script and liked it, but declined because he had “too many white Christian fans.”

Puppet-Driven 'Equus' at Constellation Theater

Ross Destiche (Alan Strang) and Ryan Tumulty (Horse), in Equus, Constellation Theater (photo by DJ Corey Photography)

We welcome this theater review from Ionarts contributor Philip Dickerson.

“The Naked Play,” “The Horses Play,” “The Harry Potter is in love with a horse Play”: These are just some of the descriptive nicknames given to Peter Shaffer’s Equus. Constellation Theater has revived this dark tale, bringing new life to a play that is plagued with stigmas and practical hurdles. In her program note, director Amber McGinnis Jackson speaks of the play as having “big ideas.” Despite the beautiful exploration McGinnis Jackson takes us on, the biggest obstacles presented by the play may not lie in the theme or ideas, but in requiring six horses moving about on stage and two brave actors being nude on stage for several minutes.

This play also has an infamous history tied to its 2009 West End/Broadway revival when Daniel Radcliffe, best known for playing the title role in the Harry Potter franchise, took on the role of Alan Strang, which required the young celebrity to bare all in front of thousands, night after night. Radcliffe’s stardom made the production more about seeing Harry Potter naked, and the story fell by the wayside. Now we find Constellation Theater doing what they do best, bringing local artists together to tackle productions that others may avoid. Thanks to careful crafting by McGinnis Jackson and the bravery of actors Ross Destiche and Emily Kester, the required nudity is handled with grace and the story remains the focal point.

Other Reviews:

Jane Horwitz, Constellation Theater revives ‘Equus’ to great effect (Washington Post, January 19)

Mark Lieberman, Horse Whisperer: Constellation Theater Interrogates the Mind with Equus (DCist, January 21)

Rebecca Ritzel, Actors head out of the theater and into the stable to prepare for ‘Equus’ (Washington Post, January 12)
At the onset, we are guided through this emotional quagmire by Martin Dysart (played exceptionally by Michael Kramer), an emotionally stale psychiatrist working day to day, until an extraordinary case is placed at his feet. A young boy named Alan Strang (Destiche) has blinded six horses for an unknown reason. Other psychiatrists have failed to get through his hardened shell, and Dysart is seemingly the boy’s last chance. Intrigued by the extremity of the case Dysart begins treating Alan. The production takes a while to find its pacing during the back and forth of the counseling sessions between Dysart and Alan and the flashbacks involving Alan’s parents (Laureen E. Smith and Michael Tolaydo), the stable master (Colin Smith), Alan’s love interest Jill Mason (Kester), and of course the Horses (Tori Bertocci, Gwen Gastorf, Ashley Ivey, Ryan Alan Jones, Ryan Tumulty and Emily Whitworth). When Alan begins to trust Dysart and play his mental “games and tricks,” the horse-like gallop sets in and the tension builds.

Beyond the intimacy displayed between Kramer, Destiche, and Kester, the horses make this production more real. The puppet head-pieces give visual satisfaction, but under the movement direction of Mark Jasser, the puppeteers provide authentic movement, mannerisms, and breath. Such authenticity is reminiscent of the West End/Broadway hit War Horse, which in many ways revolutionized puppetry. While Constellation’s horse puppets are much simpler in design, the actors bringing them to life create their reality with just as much precision.

Equus runs roughly two and a half hours with a ten-minute intermission. It closes on February 14.

#morninglistening: Hartmann by Committee


Perchance to Stream: Folle Journée de Nantes Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to online audio and online video from the week gone by. After clicking to an audio or video stream, you may need to press the "Play" button to start the broadcast. Some of these streams become unavailable after a few days.

  • Leonard Slatkin conducts Mahler's sixth symphony with the Orchestre National de Lyon, plus Mozart's fifth violin concerto with Vilde Frang as soloist. [France Musique]

  • The Munich Radio Orchestra gives a concert performance of Benjamin Godard's opera Dante, recorded at the Prinzregententheater. [BR-Klassik]

  • Listen to Giovanni Simone Mayr's opera Medea in Corinto (Naples, 1813), conducted last July by Fabio Luisi at the Festival della Valle d'Itria. [ORF]

  • From the Wigmore Hall in London, the Takács Quartet plays music by Haydn and Shostakovich. [BBC3]

  • Elise Caluwaerts and Wiard Witholt star in Sydney Chamber Opera's staging of Pascal Dusapin's Passion. [ABC Classic]

  • In a concert recorded at the Church of Saint-Roch in Paris, Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent perform Bach cantatas for Christmas. [France Musique]

  • The BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Alexander Vedernikov perform Shostakovich's 6th Symphony and Schnittke's Viola Concerto with Lawrence Power, recorded at the Barbican Hall. [BBC3]

  • Ophélie Gaillard leads soprano Claire Lefilliâtre and the Ensemble Pulcinella in sacred music by Purcell, Monteverdi, Rossi, Sanses, Merula, and other, recorded in the Cathédrale Saint-Macou in Pontoise. [France Musique]

  • Watch many of the concerts from the Folle Journée de Nantes. [ARTE]


Venzago, Watts with the BSO

available at Amazon
O. Schoeck, Sommernacht (inter alia), Berner Symphonieorchester, M. Venzago
(Musiques Suisses, 2015)
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is approaching the celebration of its 100th anniversary this Thursday. For the last program before that event, conductor Mario Venzago returned to the podium, with a pleasing selection of music that was full of surprises, heard on Thursday night in the Music Center at Strathmore. Opening with Gluck, some odd selections from the marvelous opera Armide, was an inspired choice, music that few BSO listeners are likely to have heard, at least from the BSO.

The Gluck set included the overture and several dances, plus a chaconne and finale, with a concentrated number of players, including a harpsichord for the continuo part and, somewhat mysteriously, a part for harp. The modern brass instruments had to play in a rather contained way, so as not to overwhelm the ensemble, revealing many delightful sounds, especially the hypnotic Elysium number and an ornately beautiful flute solo in the Siciliana. Gluck premiered this opera in Paris in 1777, the same year that Mozart composed his ninth piano concerto, K. 27, in Salzburg for Victoire Jenamy, the daughter of dancer and choreographer Jean-Georges Noverre. It is a jewel of a piece, given a pretty if not always easily flowing account by pianist André Watts. Venzago kept the orchestra at just the right levels to allow his soloist to come to the fore, making many little adjustments to realign the ensemble. Watts performed the cadenzas and other solo moments with some panache, but this was not exactly a rendition to be remembered, although the third movement had a daring spirit.

Other Reviews:

Tim Smith, BSO welcomes back Andre Watts, Mario Venzago (Baltimore Sun, February 6)
Schumann's symphonies often bore me, but good conductors know how to fix balances to make the best of the composer's sometimes dull orchestration. Venzago did just that in this performance of Schumann's fourth symphony, in D minor, reigning in the string and brass sound to reveal the winds more and applying generous rubato to bring out the Romantic nature of Schumann's phrases. The second movement was delicate and wistful, with some tuning issues when the oboe and cello section shared a melody (not a good combination), but a lovely violin solo in the middle section. The scherzo felt plenty fast but was limber and lively than just forceful, and a trio of charming, murmuring sounds that Venzago's rubato touch brought to life. Venzago's earlier restraint of the brass now paid off, as he finally gave that section its head, driving an exciting finale to its conclusion.

This concert repeats this evening, at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

CD Review: Eschenbach's Hindemith

available at Amazon
Hindemith, Symphonie 'Mathis der Maler' / Symphonie in Es, NDR Sinfonieorchester, C. Eschenbach

(released on October 9, 2015)
ODE 1275-2 | 67'32"
Charles T. Downey, Hindemith, Symphonies, NDR Symphony Orchestra
Washington Post, February 5
When Christoph Eschenbach began his tenure with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2010, he arrived with a recording contract with the Finnish recording label Ondine. He has recorded only one disc with the NSO to date, in 2011 — the orchestra’s first recording since 2001 — which inauspiciously paired some slightly sloppy Gershwin and Bernstein with the premiere of the instantly forgettable “Remembering JFK” by Peter Lieberson.

Eschenbach may not have released any more recordings with the NSO since then, but he has done so with two of his former bands: the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra and the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. With the latter orchestra, he made two Hindemith discs, both recorded live around the 50th anniversary of Hindemith’s death in 2013, slightly after which the NSO programmed the composer’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d"... [Continue reading]
Hindemith, Symphonie 'Mathis der Maler' / Symphonie in Es
NDR Sinfonieorchester, Christoph Eschenbach

#morninglistening: Hashtag Jean Muton


CD Review: Divine Redeemer

available at Amazon
Divine Redeemer (music by Bach, Franck, Gounod, Reger, et al.), C. Brewer, P. Jacobs

(released on September 11, 2015)
Naxos 8.573524 | 61'22"
Charles T. Downey, Divine Redeemer: Christine Brewer, Paul Jacobs
Washington Post, February 3
A new album of Christian devotional pieces by a major opera singer, while part of a long tradition, might turn off some listeners. On her new disc, “Divine Redeemer,” the celebrated soprano Christine Brewer, together with the equally celebrated organist Paul Jacobs, moves beyond cliche with a varied selection of music that she approaches with a sincerity that reflects her start singing in church in her Illinois home town.

There are only a couple of pieces that might set off chestnut alarms. César Franck’s “Panis angelicus” is offered, thankfully, in a version closer to its original form, in the “Messe à 3 voix,” than the schmaltzy arrangements with oohing chorus often heard now. Jacobs plays the organ arrangement in a way that recalls Franck’s original scoring for cello, harp, and organ, with the cello melody on a solo stop and the closing arpeggios rendered in a harp-like way... [Continue reading]
Divine Redeemer (music by Bach, Franck, Gounod, Reger, et al.)
Christine Brewer (soprano) and Paul Jacobs (organ)


Something Missing from 'Une éducation manquée'

(L to R) Sopranos Amel Brahim-Djelloul and Sophie Junker in Une Éducation Manquée, Opera Lafayette (photo by Louis Forget)
People should perform the music of Emmanuel Chabrier more than they do. The good folks at Opera Lafayette have done their part, adding Chabrier to their list of revivals of 19th-century operas. On Tuesday evening in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, the company presented a staged version of Chabrier's Une éducation manquée, a charming one-act operetta composed two years after L'étoile. On the basis of what I have heard so far, put me down for any performances of Chabrier's other comic operas or his serious work Gwendoline.

The libretto, by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo, recounts the dilemma of a young married couple, played by two sopranos, who have reached their wedding night without really knowing about what they are supposed to do with each other when the lights are out. The husband, Gontran, calls back his drunken tutor, Master Pausanias, to berate him on account of this deficiency in his education, but the elderly abbé is not much help. Only when lightning and thunder strike, driving the wife, Hélène, into her husband's arms, does the hapless couple figure things out.

Soprano Sophie Junker was a wide-eyed Hélène, with some bell-like top notes and a beautiful overall tone, with soprano Amel Brahim-Djelloul a little more tested at the high end but showing a charming boyishness in the trouser role of Gontran. Baritone Dominique Côté had smart comic timing as Pausanias, if some tentative qualities on the high parts of the role. Opera Lafayette extended the short work to about an hour of music by introducing the opera with four of Chabrier's charming animal-themed songs (Villanelle des petits canards, Pastorale des cochons roses, Les Cigales, and the hilarious Cocodette et Cocorico, in which a hen and rooster find each other). For these scenes director Bertrand Deletré created little vignettes showing the charmed youth of the two leads, played by an adorable group of child supernumeraries.

Other Reviews:

Anne Midgette, An evanescent French rarity by Chabrier returns to the stage (Washington Post, February 4)
Chabrier debuted the opera, in a semi-private performance, in his own piano reduction, but that does not seem like a sufficient reason to forego the composer's orchestral version of the score. Pianist Jeffrey Watson did the piano version justice, with probably unnecessary direction from conductor Ryan Brown, creating an intimate ambiance as heard from the close rows. Perhaps a future project could focus instead on Darius Milhaud's expanded version of this opera, created for Sergei Diaghilev in 1924, with Milhaud's recitatives and new number (Couplets de Mariette) for Hélène.

This performance repeats Friday and Saturday, at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York.

#morninglistening: Musorgksy / Bare Mountain Pictures & Gergiev


ONF de Retour

available at Amazon
Debussy, Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, I. Huppert, Orchestre National de France, D. Gatti
(Radio France, 2012)

available at Amazon
Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (inter alia), Orchestre National de France, D. Gatti
(Sony Classics, 2012)
The last time that the Orchestre National de France was in Washington, at the Kennedy Center in 2008, the late Kurt Masur was at the podium. On that tour, the main course was delicious Bruckner, with a slightly odd Beethoven concerto with pianist David Fray. For their latest appearance, presented by Washington Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Daniele Gatti reversed the concept, with a rather boring choice of symphony preceded by a devastating concerto.

Some cities on the tour heard Alexandre Tharaud play a Mozart concerto, which was probably nice enough, but in Washington it was violinist Julian Rachlin who offered a gloomy, mordant, utterly compelling rendition of Shostakovich's first violin concerto. He gave the solo part an intense but whispered tone in the first movement, with Gatti covering the dissonant string chords in a deep shadow, with glimmers of celesta shining through, the rumble of double bass pedal notes, colored with whoosh of the gong and growls of contrabassoon. It could be risky, trying to sustain the listener's interest over this extended movement, but Gatti and Rachlin did so, down to the last floating high note.

Other Reviews:

Anne Midgette, Biting Russian music from a French orchestra (Washington Post, February 1)

Simon Chin, Daniele Gatti and the Orchestre National de France Perform Debussy, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky (Chin Up, February 1)

Jeffrey Gantz, Daniele Gatti, Orchestre National de France shine in Tchaikovsky (Boston Globe, January 26)

David Wright, Gatti, Orchestra National de France bring fresh insights to familiar music (The Classical Review, January 26)

Natasha Gauthier, Violinist Julian Rachlin lets the audience share in his physical, mental performance (Ottawa Citizen, January 25)
In the second movement, maniacally and metronomically paced, Rachlin made his 1704 "ex Liebig" Stradivarius cackle and sneer, pushing the tone into ugly territory at times. The orchestra crowed in raucous approval when it had its chance to burst forth, to chilling effect, and the tempo of the slow movement, even though too slow for the marking of Andante, had a dirge-like feel to it that was convincing, even over its considerable length. Rachlin had a way of caressing the dissonant notes, making them just as beautiful, and the cadenza grew in force and volume into a triumphant start of the finale.

The Burlesca quivered with anxiety, as Rachlin appeared to rush and jump ahead just slightly here and there, but Gatti recalibrated the ensemble imperceptibly, so it ended up being an impressive tour de force. Sadly, the applause was not sufficient to elicit the encore Rachlin had in store, an Ysaÿe movement he played at Carnegie Hall (which the New York Times apparently did not review). The missed encore may have had something to do with the lack of bodies in the hall: the sales were apparently so tepid that the Kennedy Center closed the upper balcony and had patrons relocate to the floor. For the concert opener, Gatti and the musicians shaped Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune with remarkable freedom, without the tempo dragging as it does so often. The result was languorous but not soporific, and along with a pretty flute solo, breathy and sensuous, an orchestra of immense proportions produced a range of delicate, pastel hues. The second half consisted of a performance of Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony (not reviewed).

Next on the Washington Performing Arts visiting orchestra series is the Budapest Festival Orchestra (February 15), at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.