As so many recording artists have these days, Hungarian pianist András Schiff has been through a huge number of record companies in his career. He started on Hungaroton in the late '70s, then was briefly on Denon in the early '80s. He was with Decca from the mid-'80s through the mid-'90s before moving to Teldec for late '90s. After that, he was without a contract until he signed with ECM -- and this list doesn't count Schiff's one-off recordings on Vox and Orfeo. This six-disc set on Warner Classics contains all Schiff's solo recordings for Teldec: his two discs of Haydn, his two discs of Schumann, his single disc combining variations by Handel, Brahms, and Reger, and his single disc containing all Smetana's Polkas for solo piano. As is always the case with Schiff's recordings, no matter who the composer is, the performances are uniformly superlative and interpretively consistent.
Schiff is no chameleon: he always sounds just like himself. His tone is clear but warm and full; his technique is clean but never fussy or empty; his interpretations are generous but always tastefully reserved. It's true that his Schumann is more poetic than his Haydn, his Haydn more elegant than his Handel, his Handel more flamboyant than his Brahms, his Brahms more playful than his Reger, his Reger more severe than his Smetana, and his Smetana more melancholy than any other composer this side of Rachmaninov, but it's also true that Schiff always and everywhere sounds like his own sweet-tempered and reasonable self. Aside from the repertoire, the biggest difference between these recordings and earlier and later Schiff recordings is the recording philosophy of the label. Where Decca had Schiff sounding soft-grained and blended, Teldec has him sounding brighter and sharper.