Top Ear

Premiere recordings of pianistic giants

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Friedrich Gulda and Glenn Gould were two towering pianistic giants of the 20th century, most famous for their Bach (and their unique personality).  Lesser known, however, is that they were cogent composers as well, boasting an ample if certainly not prolific output.  Gulda’s forays into the world of jazz influenced most of his compositions, and one of his more famous works—a set of 10 vignettes entitled “Play Piano Play”—has been a favorite of both of us at Top Ear.  Marc-Andre Hamelin has recorded the 1st, 4th and 5th pieces on Hyperion, and Gulda himself played some others, but no-one has recorded the complete set—until now.

Sasha Grynyuk (not to be confused with Alexei Grynyuk), a young pianist who most recently won the Edvard Grieg Piano Competition in September 2012, releases his very ambitious debut album on Piano Classics playing only Gould and Gulda, including the whole Play Piano Play.  He also plays Gould’s Piano Sonata, a few short pieces, and the famous “So You Want to Write a Fugue?”, arranged by Grynyuk himself for piano.  Although we at Top Ear don’t know much about Grynyuk, we hope that his debut album would open our Hamelin-accustomed ears, and hope Grynyuk’s improvisations (necessary in the Gulda pieces) would show him to be a capable composer as well as pianist.  Preliminary hearings of the samples of the Gulda on Piano Classics’ website and a clip of a live performance of the 6th and 7th numbers reveal Grynyuk’s clear, crisp style to be thoroughly idiomatic of jazz, an approach that couldn’t be more different that Hamelin’s subtle, suave and smooth (though equally valid) reading.

Here is the Youtube clip of Grynyuk playing Gulda’s 6th and 7th Play Piano Play.

We hope to acquire and review it in due course.  Stay tuned.

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Author: Top Ear

Musical hooligans.

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