Alfred Brendel

Haydn: 4 Piano Sonatas; Mozart; Piano Concerto No. 20; Concerto Rondo; Rondo; Piano Sonata in F major

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The idea behind this two-disc set of seemingly randomly chosen piano works by Haydn and Mozart is that the selections were in fact specially chosen by pianist Alfred Brendel from his four-decade discography for Philips. For listeners looking for a collection more representative of the composers, this set may be a disappointment. For listeners looking for a collection representative of the performer, this set may be of intermittent interest. For Haydn, Brendel has chosen three of his finest recordings -- the E minor, G major, and D major sonatas all performed with lucidity, intensity, and intelligence -- along with one of his least satisfying recordings -- the E flat major Sonata performed with a harsh tone, clipped rhythms, and apparently very little affection. For Mozart, Brendel has chosen three dry and hard recordings -- the F major Sonata, the D minor Fantasia, and the usually exquisite A minor Rondo -- along with a witty but uninvolved D major Concert Rondo with Neville Marriner leading the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and an ardent and compelling D minor Piano Concerto with Charles Mackerras leading the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For listeners looking for the best of Brendel, this set may not be quite the thing. Try one of the Brendel volumes in the Philips' Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century series instead. Philips' piano sound is, as Philips' piano sound always is, astoundingly beautiful and astonishingly real.

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