MENDELSSOHN: Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14. Sonata in B flat, Op. 106. Variations sérieuses, Op. 54. Trois Fantasies au Caprices, Op. 16.
Ilse Von Alpenheim, piano
PENTATONE SACD 5186 152 TT: 46:20

BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2 No. 1. Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 2 No. 2. Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2 No. 3.
Mari Kodama, pianist
PENTATONE SACD 5186 067 TT: 67:22

Music of Vaughan Williams, Brahms, Mussorgsky, Puccini, Gandolfi, Britten, Boccherini, Bruckner, Demessieux, Prokofiev, Vivaldi, Borodin, Albéniz, and Cherubini, with various performers
TELARC SACD 66013 TT: 71:27

Born in Austria in 1927, pianist Ilse Von Alpenheim, now lives in her spacious home in Switzerland. She had a distinguished career and made a number of recordings including Haydn's complete keyboard music. Alpenheim was married for two decades to conductor Antal Dórati, who died in 1988. He composed a piano concerto for her which was premiered in 1975 with Washington's National Symphony of which he was Music Director at the time, and they recorded it —unfortunately this is currently unavailable. Pentatone here offers Alpenheim's recordings of music of Mendelssohn made in November 1975 in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. These are distinctive performances, and the recorded sound is spacious and natural, examples of the Philips four-channel recording technique of the time. It's unfortunate a bit more music isn't included: this CD contains what was on the original LP, with a playing time of only 46:20.

Young Japanese pianist Mari Kodama continues her recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas with this issue of the three of Op. 2 .. Already she has recorded three SACDs for Pentatone containing nine other sonatas. Excellent performances all, and very well recorded with larger than life surround sound.

Telarc's sixth SACD offers excerpts from many of their more recent releases. Sonically all are impressive in their clarity and dynamic range although the "surround sound" effect is limited. One might think that a "sampler" would not be full price, but this one is. However, it will serve its purpose, although some of their choices seem odd. For example, for an excerpt from their superb La bohème, they perhaps should have included music from the bustling Act II instead of the more sedate Act III "Dunque è proprio finita!" And from their Järvi/Cincinnati Symphony Mussorgsky disk, the quiet Khovanshchina prelude is hardly a sonic showpiece and a dubious choice when from the same recording they could have included the finale of Pictures at an Exhibition.

R.E.B. (February 2009)