American Record Guide

Another recording of the Impromptus. Comparisons become inevitable. This French-born pianist is a little more straightforward that Hewitt in these pieces, and will appeal most to listeners who feel it is enough to just play the notes without fussing over interpretive niceties. This works best in Impromptu 2 in F sharp, which moves along with better flow than Hewitt’s somewhat self-indulgent playing. D’Ascoli gives a fine reading of the Fantasy Impromptu but simply lacks Hewitt’s imaginative flashes of inspiration.

The four Scherzos run into competition with dozens of highly competent pianists. D’Ascoli gives us a gentler approach that usual, but can be aggressive and plays with rhythms when its suits his purpose. Scherzo 1 is light and frisky and similar to the performance by Valerie Tryon. Some might say it is under-characterised, but it is perfectly in step with the nature of these pieces. There is plenty of fire in the ever popular Scherzo 2 in B flat, and few would be disappointed with this traditional reading. In the last (and longest) scherzo if we are to believe the printed timing of well under eight minutes it would be the fastest performance ever. This is an error, and the actual timing is well over 11 minutes. The élan d’Ascoli brought to Scherzo 1 is missing here.

With impressive sound, fine technique, and unfailing musical values, the pianist achieves performances easily on a par with any but the top level.

—Alan Becker