Piano Works from the Husum Festival 2001
Here is a lucky 13th disc from the ever-resourceful Schloss vor Husum Festival, dedicated to adventurous rather than conservative music lovers. Once again they present a team of pianists happy to explore the nooks and crannies of what is after all the richest of repertoires.
First there is Alfredo Perl taking time off from doughty Beethoven and Liszt cycles to give us the fourth of Dohnányi’s Op 11 Rhapsodies based on the ‘Dies Irae’ and played with power and eloquence. Fredrik Ullén (he of the BIS Ligeti series and the stunning ‘Got a Minute?’ disc of 15 elaborations of Chopin’s Minute Waltz: BIS, 3/01) is idiomatic and commanding, whether in Bartók’s Three Hungarian Folk Songs or Laura Netzel’s La Fileuse which remembers at least two of Moszkowski’s Etudes.
Not everything is worth its weight in gold and Marko Taj?evic’s Balkan Dances and Boris Papandopulo’s Etude, however expertly played by Kemal Gekic, hardly demand a second hearing. Neither does Hindemith’s once reasonably popular Third Sonata which, despite Enrico Pace’s strong advocacy, remains more dour than exhilarating. On the other hand, Konstantin Scherbakov is warmly sympathetic in both Schubert-Godowsky and Rzewski, and there is much to enjoy in Frédéric Meinders’ Mendelssohn and two Homenages by Cor de Groot where the Spanish influence of No 2 seeps into No 5 (did de Groot know Joaquín Turina’s ‘Le Jeudi Saint a Minuit’ from his Sevilla, Op 2?).
But pride of place must surely go to Giovanni Bellucci, already highly praised in these pages (notably his recording of the Hammerklavier on Assai, 2/00). His Liszt may not have the richness and dignity of Arrau’s celebrated Philips recording of the Aida Fantasy, but he is none the less admirably attuned to music which glows with a ghostly phosphorescence remote from Liszt’s earlier flamboyance. He takes Gottschalk’s Souvenir d’Andalousie by virtuoso storm, and if he is less focused and articulate than Ivan Davis (whose scintillating Gottschalk recital on Decca – 7/76 – is long ripe for reissue on CD), he is colourful and exciting.
The recordings are variable, sometimes a little tight and airless, but there is nothing to qualify enjoyment of seven young pianists caught on the wing in many intriguing offerings.