Classical review: February 9

Outstanding German pianist Michael Endres joined the University of Canterbury in 1999 as professor of piano. He performs worldwide as soloist and a chamber music partner, having gained his master's degree at the Juilliard School in New York and also studied in London.

> Gershwin: Songbook, Rhapsody in Blue, etc. Michael Endres (piano). OEHMS Classics (Ode) CD.

Recorded in Germany, this delightful disc has 18 songs by George Gershwin, including favourites such as The Man I Love, Swanee, Oh Lady Be Good , Strike Up the Band and I Got Rhythm. The rest of the 33 tracks include the solid fare of the piano version of jazzy Rhapsody In Blue, played with panache, plus 14 other preludes and miniatures (some as brief as 20 seconds) that are sweet and refreshing to hear.

Highlight: General appeal of Gershwin, try Three-quarter Blues.


> J. S. Bach: Partitas Nos 2 and 6, Toccata BWV 911. David Fray (piano). Virgin CD.

Fray French-born pianist and ''newcomer of the year'' in the BBC Music Magazine (2008), is a Bach specialist. He shows his inspired sensitivity on the modern keyboard in this disc, recorded close-up in the Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, in 2012.

The partita is a set of variations, and Bach liked this form for solo instruments, writing three for violin and six originally for harpsichord. Two are beautifully played here. Toccatas are virtuoso pieces displaying full chords, rapid runs, high harmonies, and other elements; in the C minor one (built on two large-scale fugues) Fray revels in drama, but the Partita No.6 in E minor probably resonates most as a giant, truly heartfelt work in seven movements.

Highlight: Energetic folksy ''Air'' movement in Toccata No.6.