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Best Recordings of 2010 (# 9)

This continues the “Best Recordings of 2010” countdown. No.10 can be found here. The lists from the previous years: 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 9 - New Release

Kletzki, Piano Concerto, various Piano Pieces, Thomas Sanderling / Russian Philharmonic Orchestra / Joseph Banowetz, Naxos 8572190

available at Amazon
P.Kletzki, Piano Concerto et al.,
T.Sanderling / Russian PO / J.Banowetz
Naxos 8572190

I’m a little surprised to find that there actually is another recording dedicated to the music of Paul Kletzki (1900-1973), generally known (if at all) only as a conductor. There is a 2004 BIS recording, conducted by Thomas Sanderling (the eldest of Kurt Sanderling’s conducting gaggle of sons), with the Third Symphony and a Flute Concerto. And there I thought the excuse for never having known of Kletzki’s composing side was that the Naxos disc of the Piano Concerto (and several solo piano pieces) was the first disc focusing on that repertoire. Well, the discovery wasn’t any less revealing for having come a little late; with Thomas Sanderling being at it again conducting the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra in this stunningly effective, pleasantly bulky concerto.

Kletzki—championed as a composer and conductor by Furtwängler—composed from 1921 until the early 40s, but no longer after the war; musically shell-shocked, as he explained. In any case, his music would not have fit into the post-war aesthetic in the West, where the Pole Pavel Klecki settled with his Swiss wife. His music hasn’t hitherto been associated with the “Entartete Musik / Degenerate Music” label (which I prefer not to see as a derogatory label but a reverse stamp of honor… best utilized so that good may at last come from the musical aspect of the many crimes perpetrated by the Third Reich), but it should be, of course. His music—down to the publishers’ plates—was destroyed in the 30s in Germany. He escaped, but his composing career didn’t. Even this performance—a world premiere recording—was possible only after John Norine Jr. orchestrated the work based on a 1930s two-piano arrangement since the concerto’s score—while in the possession of Breitkopf—was dutifully destroyed.

Perhaps this recording will play a part in reviving the work a little… certainly a romantic 20th century Polish piano concerto of this type should be welcome to pianists and program directors interested in veering off the usual suspects usually programmed. It’s not the sweeping walloping style of Rachmaninoff, but certainly closer to him than, say, Ravel. Timothy Jackson’s notes describe Kletzki’s style as “super-complex tonality”, which might obscure the fact that the work is perfectly tonal, with nary a chromatic twist so complicated that conservative ears would find themselves in a twist. Never wilting when the concerto asks for bold and heavy, Joseph Banowetz seems to meet all the challenges thrown his way with aplomb and dexterity and—most important—genuine sympathy. (Short (p)review on WETA)

# 9 – Reissue

Tchaikovsky, Symphonies 4-6, Daniele Gatti / Royal Philharmonic, Harmonia Mundi 2907561

available at Amazon
P.Tchaikovsky, Symphonies 4-6,
D.Gatti / Royal PO
Harmonia Mundi 2907561

-> Best Recordings of 2010 #1
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #2
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #3
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #4
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #5
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #6
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #7
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #10

I don’t suppose I wrote about Daniele Gatti’s Tchaikovsky when it came out, except the little notes that we—Bob McQuiston and I—would clip at the overhead bins at Tower Records. But I loved it when it came out, wrote enthusiastic little notes about it, and I still think that those three recordings with the Royal Philharmonic are the best modern demi-cycle available. Gatti, who at his best makes anything sound risky and daring, doesn’t fall into the sugar-traps of Tchaikovsky.

He goes for grandeur alright, when an outer movement calls for it, but elsewhere he takes the reins tightly and crisply and avoids sentimentality. Superbly played and in gorgeous recorded sound (formerly available on SACDs, too) that leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.

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