Friday, January 4, 2013

Who is this Pianist? A Surprise, Perhaps...

I came across a stunning performance by a pianist whom I would not have contemplated playing this kind of composition.
It is the tenth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt, most assuredly written during his unprecedented performance period, and designed to 'wow' the audience with a kind of music and level of performance not known until this young pyrotechnician appeared on the scene in the early 19th century.
To be sure, the level of artistry is not the first priority Liszt sought to develop in the Rhapsody. The circus-like atmosphere pandemic throughout this incarnation, redolent with glissando passages and incredibly difficult shards of notes cascading from beginning to end, cry out for the likes of a Horowitz or Volodos to bring to life.
Amazingly, this particular performance is by Artur Rubinstein, whom we do not usually connect with this kind of sensationalism. The world has known Rubinstein primarily as a kind of poet and aristocrat with a tremendous repertoire.
But do keep in mind that the Rubinsteins or Serkins or Lipattis all possessed world-class techniques and could perform anything written for the instrument, and once in a while, such as in this case, one of these poets would and could unleash powers he chose not to uncover, for the most part.
Why not play a 'game?' Get the 1937 recording of this Rhapsody as played by Rubinstein; pretend that you do not know  who is performing; and ask "is this Horowitz??"
I think that you will be enthralled.

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