|REVIEWS: divine art dda 25076 The Piano at the Carnival|
This is a genuine recital programme, made more important in discographical terms for containing three world premiere recordings: transcriptions of Khachaturian's suite and Dvorak's Carnival Overture (made contemporaneously with their composition) and Sydney Smith's brilliant fantasy. I'd like to see more of Smith's work on record – was he not the first composer to make a million pounds from sales of his sheet music? What is particularly impressive is that the really serious music here, by Schumann, Chopin and Liszt, all receives excellent performances by this admirable artist.
This is strongly recommended.
The mainstay of this recital is, of course, Schumann's magnificent op. 9 Carnaval . Here Goldstone's pianistic fluency serves him well. Schumann's perilous leaps are made to sound easy. The capricious “Arlequin” has a real spring in his step: “Eusebius” is wonderfully ruminative (although the slightly dry acoustic of St. John the Baptist Church, Alkborough, robs the music of some of its wonder). Most importantly, Goldstone is able to maintain clarity of articulation at considerable speed. Perhaps Goldstone's accents in the final “Marche des Davidsbündler contre les Philistins” are a touch on the barbaric side, but this remains impressive nonetheless.
Goldstone does not head the list with his Schumann, but this is a notable, and often beautiful, reading. I agree with Susan Kagan about the integrity of Myra Hess in this piece. Kagan was reviewing the Philips “Great Pianists of the Century” release in Fanfare 23:3; I would like to add the Music & Arts BBC performance of October 1950 on PR 5646.
The Chopin Souvenir de Paganini (on Carnival of Venice ) is a beautiful way to follow. Goldstone's fluid legato is a joy. Goldstone entertains still more in the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody . Occasionally he is a little dry of pedal, but still it is easy to revel in the sheer virtuosity of it all. He is no Cziffra (EMI), to be sure, but his remains an exhilarating ride, and to Goldstone's credit he seems intent on underlining the more progressive writing contained here.
English-born Sydney Smith (1939-89) was a pupil of Moscheles. His brief Fantaisie brillante on Verdi's “Ballo ” (1961) takes three numbers from act I: “O figlio d'Inghilterra,” “La revedrà nell' estasi,” and “Alla vita che t'arride.” This is a modern premiere recording (there was a piano roll made in around 1919). Goldstone has the time of his life. In his notes, Goldstone makes the point that “the sparkling coda reveals Smith's familiarity with Mendelssohn's piano concerto.” I would argue the influence is detectable elsewhere, also. Finally, an arrangement of Dvorák's Carnival Overture by Paul Klengel (1854- 1935). Readers may be more familiar with Paul's brother, Julius (1859-1933): Christopher Williams reviewed a disc of Julius's cello concertos issued on cpo in Fanfare 25:6. Paul's arrangement of Dvorák's masterpiece of festivity results, alas, in one of the more unimaginative experiences of the album. A shame, as this is the last music we hear. Buy this disc, instead, for the Khachaturian and the Smith, and be entertained along the way by the Schumann, the Chopin and the Liszt.
Goldstone proves no less assured and inspired in the camp melodrama of Liszt's ‘Carnival of Pesth' (Hungarian Rhapsody no. 9), in which he exchanges Cziffra's demonic glitter for a relaxed swagger, sustained by a gloriously rounded cantabile that possesses just the right degree of excited intensity. Chopin's Souvenir de Pagnani is dispatched with aristocratic nonchalance, its right-hand filigree shaped and timed to perfection, while the first recording of Sydney Smith's Fantasie brillante on Verdi's Un ballo in maschera since the original 1919 piano roll is an uproarious pot-pourri of gloriously uninhibited virtuoso pianism.
Book-ending the recital are two piano transcriptions of orchestral originals; if the final section of Paul Klengel's merciless transcription of Dvorák's Carnival Overture might have been projected even more excitedly, Goldstone brings Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite whirling to life with exhilarating playing that reminds one of the old quip that the piano is at heart an ‘orchestra in a box'. Goldstone's extensive booklet notes are also a model of enlightening erudition. Bravo!
Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite moves along at a merry dance-like pace with Schumann's "Carnival" equally invigorating with the bursts of irrepressible energy wonderfully tamed by the more reflective and pensive moments. The short "Souvenir de Paganini" by Chopin is also beautifully played with its dazzling scales almost taking one centuries back right into the atmosphere of a Venetian carnival.
Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #9 is another beautiful work which comes alive in Goldstone's fingers but the real gem here is the rediscovery of Sidney Smith's Fantaisie on Verdi's "Ballo", a true period piece if there was any. All is rounded off with a spanking transcription of Dvorák's immortal "Carnival" Overture, arranged by Paul Kliegel, which is the ideal conclusion to what is truly a memorable disc. Goldstone contributes exhaustingly detailed and stylish notes which are as important to the disc almost as the music itself. I really cannot recommend this issue too highly both for lovers of the piano as well as anyone who simply loves some good music.
MIDWEST RECORD joint review of 25067, 25073, 25076:
After “A Night at the Opera” (A/08), the piano comes to the carnival. Next year we are promised a trip to the ballet. In another of his typically imaginative and enterprising programmes, Anthony Goldstone frames three familiar piano carnivals (those by
Schumann, Chopin and Liszt) with three world premieres: a transcription of Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite by Alexander Dolukhanian (1910-68); the Fantasy on three themes from Verdi's Un ballo in maschera by Sydney Smith (1839-89), the Dorset-born pupil of Moscheles famous for his once-popular myriad works that combined “a maximum of brilliancy with a minimum of difficulty” ( Grove , 1899); and Dvorák's Carnival Overturn ingeniously transcribed by Paul Klengel.
There is no lack of flair and finesse in the performances, among them the first I have ever heard of the Chopin variations played at what was surely the intended (brisk) tempo. At times, though, a certain doggedness creeps into the execution. It is not lack of fluency or musicality but, noticeably in the Dvorák arrangement and sections of the Schumann, the feeling of a job being done. Perhaps Goldstone has taken on too much too quickly, for his laudable eagerness to share his wide-ranging enthusiasms sometimes results in efficient rather than inspired performances. On this occasion, the piano (a Grotrian of no specified vintage) sounds as though it needs new felts; it lacks the richness of tone of some other makes – or at least sounds so as recorded here. Nevertheless, an enjoyable disc-with-a-difference complemented by the pianist's own exemplary booklet.
LIVERPOOL DAILY POST:
OZ ARTS REVIEW:
It's the rarities that are the main fascination of this recording.
Sydney Smith's Fantaisie brillante on Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, for instance, is claimed as a first ever on record apart from a piano roll made circa 1919. Some might tut tut at its often superficial writing which it would not be inaccurate to describe as frankly cheap salon material – but its sometimes schmaltzy measures are offered with such gusto and brilliance that its inherent shallowness is forgotten for the duration of the performance. And in a first ever recording of Paul Klengel's arrangement of Dvorak's Carnival Overture, Goldstone seems positively to relish coming to grips with its many keyboard challenges. He emerges unscathed from this traversing of a treacherous musical landscape with ebullient, admirably buoyant, playing that marshals avalanches of notes with immense flair.
I liked particularly the skill that Goldstone brings to Chopin's Souvenir de Paganini (The Carnival of Venice), its much loved theme presented in gorgeous filigree terms with fine tonal light and shade, the composer's idiosyncratic harmonies contributing to most satisfying listening. But an account of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 9 (The Carnival of Pesth) tends to ramble in a reading where the soloist might to advantage have surrendered more fully to the Muse.
Khatchaturian's Masquerade Suite is known to millions in its original incarnation for orchestra. Here, Goldstone gives us the premiere recording of Alexander Dolukhanian's version of the suite for solo piano. Each of the five movements is finely considered with the concluding Galop a particular delight: the playing is informed by immense brio before a brief moment of reflection, then an all-stops-out conclusion at top speed at high decibel levels.