Various

Klassisches Klavier: Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin

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Germany's Profil label tends to release mainstream Classical and Romantic repertory, sometimes played on historical instruments and almost always superbly engineered. The label rarely releases cut-price items and might be called a boutique outfit. So it's a bit surprising to see a compilation of previous releases into a generic Klassisches Klavier (Classical Piano) release, but no doubt things are tough all over, even in the Bundesrepublik. So: if you're looking for a drive-time disc of classical piano music, here's the scoop. The good news: if you've got a high-end Audiotec Fischer stereo in your BMW, Profil's vaunted engineering comes through on most of the selections here. Strictly speaking, they are not piano music but movements of concertos for piano and orchestra, and one of Profil's trademarks is to place and select microphones in such a way that a clear, spacious separation between piano and orchestra is maintained. The entrances of the piano sound a little different in each case, and they're always lively. The delightfully skittery feel of the Allegro animato section of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major is partly the work of pianist Jenö Jandó and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, but the engineering brings it home. The bad news: this is a pretty arbitrary selection of music. Each work, curiously enough, is the finale of the concerto it comes from, except for the concluding Largo slow movement of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15, and the program consists mostly of Mozart and Beethoven, with a brief detour for Liszt and Chopin. It's not what you'd call varied, and the listener expecting music of various tempos and moods may be disappointed. The performances themselves, especially the brisk fortepiano (early piano) Mozart readings by Linda Nicholson with the German historical-instrument group Capella Coloniensis, are quite strong, and they might possibly whet a listener's interest for more of the same from Profil's catalog. But for a basic anthology of favorite piano music, you can do better.

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