To mark the 80th birthday of Vladimir Ashkenazy on 6th July 2017, Decca Classics is celebrating the prolific output of its longest-serving artist with a new album of Bach’s French Suites, two new box sets – his Complete Concerto recordings and a personal selection of solo and chamber works – plus six vinyl reissues of his legendary recordings.

BACH: French Suites

As one of the most renowned and revered pianists of our time, Vladimir Ashkenazy has won acclaim for his penetrating insight and superlative technique. As an artist, his creative life encompasses a vast range of activities and he continues to offer inspiration to music-lovers across the world. His brand new album of Bach’s six French Suites continues Ashkenazy’s extraordinary journey through the major keyboard works of JS Bach.

Ashkenazy remarks, “It was a privilege to do more Bach, and I tried to have as clear a sound as possible. The music is transparent, and Bach’s own instrument was terribly clear, so this has to be taken into account in pieces where there are lower bass lines, and a more involved texture. I use very few ornaments and don’t think of the sound of the harpsichord – the piano is what we have today. What I try to do is play on what we have today, and make the combination of voices as clear as possible”.


The Complete Concerto Recordings

Decca has compiled a major new collection of Ashkenazy’s Complete Concerto Recordings – featuring every concerto recording he made for the label as a pianist, plus a previously unpublished Mozart K488. As well as new essays, there are 46 CDs in original jackets with printed spines, in chronological order allowing listeners to follow the development of the artist over his prolific career recording exclusively for Decca. The set contains three Beethoven cycles, including the Grammy-winning recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Sir Georg Solti (1973), two Rachmaninov cycles, and the Prokofiev, Brahms, Bartók and Mozart cycles. There are also 2 DVDs featuring Ashkenazy’s 1974 recordings with Bernard Haitink of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with extra documentary footage and the Beethoven overtures, filmed at the Royal Festival Hall.


A Personal Selection: The Solo & Chamber Recordings

Having signed to Decca over half a century ago in 1963, Vladimir Ashkenazy has yielded one of the largest and most diverse discographies of any classical artist. In this 56-CD set, he has personally selected a wide representation of solo, chamber and vocal recital releases spanning his long and fruitful relationship with Decca. The collection is drawn from a vast recorded repertoire of over 150 solo and chamber recordings and represents a number of long unavailable items. It also includes the first international release of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in its original coupling with Russian miniatures.

A strong personal connection informs Ashkenazy’s choices, from his affinity to Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Chopin to his fondness for Ravel, Prokofiev and his long-time friend Howard Blake. Then there are the inspired collaborations with André Previn, Itzhak Perlam, Lynn Harrell and Elisabeth Söderström, the latter whom he called “the sunshine of my generation”.

In the chamber and song recitals, Ashkenazy’s sensitive, nuanced and perfectly balanced performances reveal him at once as both a masterful pianist and a sympathetic one: exampled in the Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky songs with Söderström, the Brahms Horn Trio with Tuckwell and Perlman and the Beethoven Cello Sonatas with Harrell.

Other highlights include the Bach Preludes and Fugues and Shostakovich’s Piano Trios with Visontay and Lidstöm. Ashkenazy also gives listeners the opportunity to compare multiple versions of Schumann’s C Major Fantasie Op. 17, Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, Brahms’ Horn Trio and Prokofiev’s Seventh and Eighth Sonatas, recorded decades apart.


Six New Vinyl Reissues

To complete the 80th birthday celebration, Decca presents six iconic recordings on vinyl (with lacquers cut from original analogue tapes at Abbey Road) reissued with their original artwork and spanning Ashkenazy’s wide repertoire. From Bach to Rachmaninov, Mozart to Scriabin, this collection perfectly showcases the diverse musical palette of one of the most versatile and admired musicians of the past century.

The vinyl reissues are:

RACHMANINOV – Second Piano Concerto ∙ Etudes Tableaux
BACH – Concerto No.1, BWV 1052 ∙ CHOPIN Piano Concerto No.2
SCRIABIN – Prometheus ∙ Piano Concerto
BEETHOVEN – Piano Concerto No.4 ∙ Overture “Leonore No.3”
MOZART – Piano Concertos Nos.17 & 21
TCHAIKOVSKY – Piano Concerto No.1