American Record Guide

Volume 4 of the Russian Piano Music Series brings us works of Sergei Liapounov (1859-1924), who is all but forgotten today. Still, in the annals of recorded music his piano works have had a few outings before, and collectors are faced with a conundrum with respect to acquiring this part of his output.

Anthony Goldstone is no slouch when it comes to performing rare and difficult music. The Lisztian Piano Sonata, with its echoes of Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakoff, has been recorded a few times before, most notably by Karl-Andreas Kolly on Novalis (July/Aug 2005) and Dorothy Elliot Schechter on Marco Polo (Nov/Dec 1993). Neither is currently available. We can dispense with Schechter, since she makes heavy weight of the piece and manages to stretch it out to a remarkable 32 minutes (others knock at least five minutes off this time), and sounds boxy. She does include several pieces not found on the other recordings. I would be hard pressed to decide between Goldstone and Kolly, the latter including the attractive Six Easy Pieces not found elsewhere. Further complicating matters, Goldstone includes a Barcarolle, Nocturne, and Mazurka that you will have to give up if you do not purchase his recording. Each of these breathes the Russian lyrical soul, and would be a loss for the serious piano collector. The Variations on a Georgian Theme and Fetes de Noel are included on both the Goldstone and Kolly discs and are well worth having.

If you already have Kolly, be reasonably content. If you have neither, get Goldstone and lament the loss of the all too brief but endear ing Six Easy Pieces. To get all of the pieces you will have to get all three recordings. If you have all three and want to create additional shelf space, you might dispense with the Schechter. Her additional pieces are also less interesting than the others. Excellent notes by Goldstone and sonorous recorded sound.

—Becker