Quarterly Critic’s Choice

The best and most interesting new releases of the previous three months are awarded a place on the Quarterly Critic’s Choice. Evaluation criteria are artistic quality, repertoire value, presentation, and sound quality. From 2014 onward, the Long Lists are stored directly with each Quarterly Critic’s Choice.

Quarterly Critic’s Choice

Keyboard Music

Reinhard Febel: 18 Studies for Two Pianos

based on Johann Sebastian Bach’s »The Art of Fugue«. Duo Yaara Tal & Andreas Groethuysen. 2 CD, Sony Classical 19439784132

Reinhard Febel does not skip a single note of the Bach original but enriches the highly complex work with added tones, (reverb) effects, and rhythmic changes in a way that adds new dimensions, tensions, and drama to it. He aptly calls this working method: »painting over«. Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen, who commissioned these eighteen studies, play them with breathtaking clarity and conciseness. The most intricate rhythms take on natural ease, the elaboration of themes and secondary voices, the most refined dynamic gradations, and, last but not least, an extremely changeable piano sound that makes this recording a breathtaking experience. For the jury: Gregor Willmes

Keyboard Music

Mahan Esfahani – Musique?

Modern and electro-acoustic works for Harpsichord by Tōru Takemitsu, Henry Cowell, Kaija Saariaho, Gavin Bryars, Anahita Abbasi, Luc Ferrari. Mahan Esfahani. Hyperion CDA68287 (Note 1)

The harpsichord is commonly associated with early music or, at best, with the neo-baroque soundtrack of the Miss Marple films, in which the keyboard instrument quirkily chirps and purrs. But now Mahan Esfahani presents a furious recording that exclusively contains works from the 20th and 21st centuries. In doing so, he literally unleashes the instrument and opens the gates to new dimensions of sound, and at times even treats it percussively. The panorama ranges from Tōru Takemitsu’s sharply outlined »Rain Dreaming«, over Henry Cowell’s noisy »Set of Four«, to breathtaking electronic experiments by Kaija Saariaho and Anahita Abbasi. For the jury: Regine Müller

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