We have two recordings for the price of one this month: two pianists, two solo recordings, and two chances each week to win a $25 gift card from McNally Robinson.

Since we did not have a Classical recording of the Month for January, we have decided to double-up in February. Every Monday and Friday morning at 8:30 we will feature a CD and offer up a chance to win a $25 Gift Card.

Starting Monday Feb 6th we will begin with keyboard player Rick Wakeman's new CD: Piano Portraits. Rick is a former member of the rock band Yes, he has recorded with everyone from Cat Stevens, David Bowie and Elton John to the London Symphony Orchestra, and he is also being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this April!

On his new CD Wakeman has re-interpreted some of the music that has impacted and influenced his life over the decades, taking in 70s rock and pop, classical, jazz and choral. Songs like Stairway to Heaven, Life on Mars, Space Oddity, Morning Has Broken and works by Debussy and Tchaikovsky, capture a taste of Wakeman's many years of music. 

Wakeman says: “I’ve been wanting to do a piano album for years and I spent quite a bit of time looking at everything from straight classical pieces to stuff that I’d played on in the past like ‘Morning Has Broken’ and ‘Life On Mars’,” Wakeman explains. “Plus pieces of music that I thought would work really well like Stairway to Heaven and classics like ‘Clair de Lune’. Nearly all of the tracks have a memory for me somewhere down the line and it just seemed to work.”


Host Michael Wolch had the good fortune to interview Rick by phone from the BBC studios in London. Here is the interview, where Michael beagn by asking him about his background in music before starting his career in Rock & Roll:



This is a clip from the new CD:



The CD we will be featuring every Friday morning at 8:30 is the Deutsche Grammophon debut of Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson, entitled Philip Glass: Piano Works (2CD). 

Described by The New York Times as a “splendid pianist” and by Piano News as an “immense talent”, Ólafsson is much sought-after by international conductors, orchestras and artists as both a chamber and concert musician. Now 32, he graduated in 2008 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert McDonald, and has since released three albums on Dirrindí, the label he set up in 2009. Last year he contributed two solo piano pieces and the Valse des fleurs for piano four hands to Deutsche Grammophon’s 30-CD Stravinsky Complete Edition. Ólafsson is also Artistic Director of the annual Reykjavík Midsummer Music festival, which he founded in 2012, and last year took over from Martin Fröst as curator of Sweden’s Vinterfest.

A year ago Philip Glass handpicked some pianists to perform all of his Etudes together at the Barbican in London. Víkingur Ólafsson was one of them and according to the press he was “the highlight of the evening” (Sean and Heard International). The new CD features a selection of Glass' etudes and other works, which Olafsson plays with clarity, confidence and even more depth than the composer himself.


Host Michael Wolch caught up with Vikingur from his home in Germany and began by asking him about his muscial upbringing:



Here is a promo from the new CD: