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"I first encountered the piano playing of Jorge Bolet when, in the wicked days of cassette compilation mixes, I found myself the possessor of a copy of that great romantic standby Liebstraum No. 3. To this day it remains a favourite. In the playing of Liszt, for which Bolet will most especially be celebrated, he achieves (in my untutored opinion) the crucial balance between rippling and thundering virtuosity and a mastery of the sonority and complex harmonies of that great genius, but never at the expense of finding the melodic core of the works. The emotional power of his Widmung, for example, and the immense architecture and coloration of his B Minor Sonata and Tannhäuser Overture - these are enormous achievements in piano recording, quite on a par with the masterpieces of Solomon, Horowitz and Rubinstein. Perhaps I can best sum up my relationship with him by saying that I cannot imagine living without him. Not a week goes by without my giving myself the pleasure of a visit to his unique sound world."
-- Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, and film director Stephen Fry (January 2015)
Mattia Battistini: The Complete Recordings
Mattia Battistini is unique among baritones. Battistini was born in 1856 and sang in the tradition of Tamburini, Ronconi, and Cotogni. Due to an exceedingly long career the zenith of which coincided with the invention of the gramophone, we can enjoy a rare glimpse into a bygone era of baritone-singing, especially since Battistini was still singing beautifully well into his sixties. To round off this six CD set, Marston will add eleven Fonotipia sides from 1910-1911 of baritone Giuseppe Bellantoni (1880 - 1946). Bellantoni is a “modern” singer who overlaps Battistini on the musical timeline. Pairing these two baritones on one CD set provides the contrast needed to paint a more complete history of baritone singing on record.
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Jorge Bolet, Volume 2
Ambassador from the Golden Age: A Connoisseur's Selection for the Bolet Centennial
Arthur Rubinstein, during a visit to the Curtis Institute of Music in 1938, singled out just one young artist who was likely to achieve a major career, the twenty-four-year-old Cuban pianist Jorge Bolet, who already (like Rubinstein) had an inimitably beautiful piano tone. The confirmation of Rubinstein’s prediction, however, was to be many decades in coming. Bolet (arguably similar to Rubinstein) had a narrative power and visceral excitement when playing before an audience that he seldom achieved in the recording studio. To celebrate Bolet’s centennial, Marston presents this six-CD collection of concert performances, many of which are all new to the Bolet discography. Jorge Bolet was not the only pianist to have been called “the last romantic,” but he was the only one to have worn the appellation “an old-fashioned Romantic pianist” as a proud badge of honor. He frequently invoked the memories of the pantheon of pianists who were his inspiration—Hofmann, Rachmaninoff, Friedman, Rosenthal, Moiseiwitsch, Cortot, Gieseking, and Paderewski. He said simply, “I wanted to be one of them.”
Here is a collection to prove he achieved just that. Although more than seven hours of Bolet playing, the recordings contained on this set are carefully-selected to highlight Jorge Bolet at his spontaneous best. Included are a number of Godowsky compositions that Jorge never recorded commercially; two selections from the 1970 International Piano Library benefit concert; and several pieces that are unique to the Bolet discography such as the Bach Toccata, the Mozart Rondo, the Chasins Schwanda Fantasy, and the Vořišek Impromptu in E.
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Richard Strauss: Selected Lieder Recordings 1901-1946
Richard Strauss›s (1864–1949) acceptance into the pantheon of great Lieder composers began in the early 1950s, perhaps marked by the enthusiastic reception of his Four Last Songs, premiered by Kirsten Flagstad eight months after Strauss’s death. It wasn’t long before these songs became widely performed, and by extension, his Lieder as a whole, began to gain greater acceptance as high art along with Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Wolf. This compilation concentrates on Strauss Lieder recordings from an earlier era that display the sort of vocal charm and straightforward approach to the music not usually heard in today’s style of Lieder singing. Many of these recordings are extremely important historic documents retaining their position as the definitive versions of Strauss Lieder. Some of the singers included here not only knew Strauss, but worked with him, and their recordings could have been heard and judged by him. This three CD-set contains forty songs in eighty-two performances by fifty-seven singers.
Marston is grateful to the Estate of John Stratton (Stephen Clarke, Executor) for its continuing support.
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