Classical CDs: Alfred Brendel | Vivaldi | Donizetti

Classical CDs: Alfred Brendel | Vivaldi | Donizetti

Alfred Brendel A Personal 75th Birthday Selection (Philips 475 7182/5/8/91 (2CDs each) DVD 070 1193 3) £12.99 each

One of the great pianists of our time, long resident in London, Brendel turned 75 on Thursday. To mark this, the habitually modest virtuoso has been persuaded by Philips, with whom he has recorded for 35 years, to choose his favourites from his recordings. The results come in two-CD boxes: Haydn and Mozart, Liszt and Schumann, but, above all, Schubert, whose three last piano sonatas are also preserved on DVD. All bear witness to Brendel's credo: 'If I belong to a tradition, it is a tradition that makes the masterpiece tell the performer what he should do.'

Vivaldi Tito Manlio Nicola Ulivieri (Tito), Karina Gauvin (Manlio), Ann Hallenberg (Servilia), Marijana Mijanovic (Vitellia), Debor Beronesi (Lucio), Accademia Bizantina/Dantone (Naive (3 CDs) OP 30413) £22.99

Supposedly written in five 'feverish' days, and recorded here in full for the first time, this little-known masterpiece is the latest instalment in the mammoth project to record all 450 Vivaldi scores held in the National University Library in Turin. Based on Livy's account of Tito's tragic conflict with his son, Manlius, the scintillating score tests these superb soloists to their extremes, as, according to maestro Ottavio Dantone, was Vivaldi's fiendish intent.

Donizetti Pia de' Tolomei Majella Cullagh (Pia), Bruce Ford (Ghino), Roberto Servile (Nello), Manuela Custer (Rodrigo), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, LPO/ Parry (Opera Rara (3 CDs) ORC30) £29.99

Recorded in tandem with a recent concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall, this rarely heard piece deserves all the TLC it receives from David Parry and a terrific cast. When it was first performed in 1837, a happy ending replaced the tragic demise Donizetti usually inflicted on his heroines, as death was not allowed on the Naples stage. Generously (and wittily), Opera Rara brings us both, with further variations, lending even more stature to a towering performance from Majella Cullagh in the title role.


Anthony Holden

The GuardianTramp

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