Yes, it's heavy on the piano, 4-hands and 2 piano music, but those are sub-genres of keyboard music that aren't usually seriously considered or encountered in the media (unless backed by a major label, like the 5 Browns are by Sony) and there were several releases this year worth checking out. Besides, there are a couple of other things in here to mix it up a non-pianophiles need not despair!

Vivaldi: The Four SeasonsVivaldi: The Four Seasons
Given all the choices of period vs. modern instruments and performance practice in finding a recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, this is one period version worth having. It wasn't the first recording of the concertos on period instruments, but it remains an outstanding one decades after its original release. In the booklet accompanying this Decca reissue of a classic L'Oiseau Lyre recording are notes explaining why it's a classic. Christopher Hogwood had ideas about performance practices in Vivaldi's day that differed from other period-instrument recordings at the time. Read more >>

Concerto No. 1, RV 269 "La primavera": 3. Allegro

Daquin: Nouveau Livre de NoelsDaquin: Nouveau Livre de Noëls
Louis-Claude Daquin was the organist of his day in mid-18th century Paris, but although he wrote vocal, choral, and orchestral music -- mostly for church services (he and other members of his family were converted Jews) -- all that survived were two books of keyboard works, one of which is this Nouveau livre de Noëls. It dates from around 1740 and is a standard in the French organ repertoire, most often being excerpted for Christmas-themed instrumental compilations and as interludes in choral programs. Christopher Herrick recorded all 12 noëls for Hyperion on a true period instrument, the organ of St. Rémy in Dieppe, which dates from the same time as Daquin's compositions. Read more >>

Noël Étranger

Mozart, Grieg: KlaviersonatenMozart, Grieg: Klaviersonaten
"He did what to Mozart's sonatas!?!" is the usual reaction from anyone to whom Mozart's piano sonatas are beloved works when he/she hears that Grieg wrote a second piano part to go with them. Mozart was Grieg's favorite composer, so it is not as if Grieg were attempting to "fix" Mozart's work. What Grieg wanted to do is complement the originals, similar to the way a talented younger jazz musician might want to sit in on a session with an older master. Read more >>

Sonate in C-Dur, K 545, "Sonata facile": Allegro

Medtner: The Complete SkazkiMedtner: The Complete Skazki
Like Geoffrey Tozer and Marc-André Hamelin, Hamish Milne is one of those pianists who has recorded a significant portion of Nikolay Medtner's catalog of works for piano. In Milne's case, some of it twice, as this newly recorded Hyperion release of the complete Fairy Tales covers some of the same material on Milne's CRD releases. There are, however, at least a couple of operas here that would be hard to find in their entirety elsewhere. Read more >>
Romantic Sketches for the Young, Op. 54: The Organ Grinder

Bax: Music for Two PianosBax: Music for Two Pianos
Ashley Wass continues his recordings of Arnold Bax's piano music for Naxos with this volume of music for two pianos made with Martin Roscoe. This is only the second recording made of these particular works, and with Wass' and Roscoe's excellent performance, it's hard not to talk about the worthiness of the music. Some may think of it as imitative of Debussy and Ravel, but really, it is more in the vein of their style rather than merely copying it. Read more >>

Festival Overture

Sergey Schepkin plays Bach, Vol. 1Sergey Schepkin plays Bach, Vol. 1
Sergey Schepkin has built his reputation mostly on his performances of the music of Bach. This is his second disc for the Northern Flowers label, based in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. He previously recorded the complete Bach Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, and Partitas for Ongaku, all very well received by reviewers. Nothing is said in this disc's notes or on the Northern Flowers website, but one presumes that because this disc is designated "Volume 1" and the program is a mixture of Bach works that more will follow with similarly hand-picked pieces in interesting groupings. Read more >>

Partita No. 6 in E minor, BWV 830: Toccata

Labeque Sisters: Maurice RavelMaurice Ravel
The Labèque sisters' recordings on the Philips and London labels from the early '80s, which were big hits, largely disappeared after their initial acclaim and, as of the early 2000s, were only found in excerpts on compilations. So as the big labels continue to abandon new classical recordings, the Labèques started their own record label, as many other artists have done, allowing them the freedom to choose what kind of music they want to record, whether it be standard piano duet repertoire or new interpretations of Lennon and McCartney. Their first release on their KML Recordings is this collection of works by fellow Basque countryman Maurice Ravel. Read more >>


Scènes de bal and other duo works by Massenet & FranckScènes de bal and other duo works by Massenet & Franck
Since 1996, Duo Egri & Pertis have been performing on an unusual instrument: a Pleyel Double Grand Piano. If it were being advertised in today's world, the tagline would probably be "it's two -- two! -- pianos in one." In essence, two keyboards and sets of strings share the same iron frame and soundboard, giving a much more unified sound than two separate pianos could ever achieve. Read more >>
Scènes de bal (Souvenirs de Pesth), Op. 17: 3. Promenade au clair de lune

Demidenko plays RachmaninovDemidenko Plays Rachmaninov
Nikolai Demidenko's selection of Rachmaninov's solo piano works is perfect for anyone looking for a moody, atmospheric accompaniment to a session of solitary brooding. The majority of what's on this disc is so-called Études and Préludes, but Rachmaninov made them much more like character pieces than standard musical exercises. And many pianists would and do exploit them for theatrical effect. Even though he does play with visceral excitement, Demidenko is understated by comparison. That is exactly what makes his program so satisfying. There's room in it for the listener to feel the music as well and completely get inside it. Read more >>

Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5

Sergey Taneyev: Complete QuintetsSergey Taneyev: Complete Quintets
Following Northern Flowers' release of Sergey Taneyev's complete string quartets recorded by the Taneyev Quartet in the late '70s, is this recording of his three quintets -- two for strings, one for piano and strings. The string quintets were recorded in 1980-1981, while the piano quintet was recorded in 1968. The sound in the earlier recording isn't as immediate, and the piano is definitely more distant than the strings, but the energy of the performance is just as high, especially in the gripping, glorious final moments of the piece. Read more >>

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 30: Finale