On receiving this disc, one is greeted with an incredibly colourful painting called “Gypsy Dancer” by Nina Mikhailenko. What a beautiful invitation to some finger-wrenching playing inside the jewel case.
As you can see from the playlist, there are four recordings that are world premiere. I’ve been interested in the playing of Anthony Goldstone from his first recordings, and also those done with his equally gifted wife, Caroline Clemmow. Alone or together, these pianists take on a lot of pianistic repertoire that simply isn’t generally known, thus expanding our heights of musical enjoyment that much more.
One doesn’t necessarily place this disc in the player and start from the first track. I had to hear first, Enesco’s own concert transcription of his Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 first, which is an orchestral showpiece in its own right. It also is the concluding piece of this generously-filled disc. It seems to be true that everyone saves the best for the last.
There is some virtuosic playing on this disc that even someone like the great Hungarian/French pianist György Cziffra has not traversed. Most of this music would be his kind of repertoire. If you know Cziffra’s work, then you know what type of pianism to expect on this recording.
Anthony Goldstone is not only a first-rank pianist, but also a superb transcriber and arranger of music. Zoltan Kodály’s Galanta Dances are also a well-loved set of pieces from the twentieth century repertoire. To convert them to one piano and to perform them makes technical requirements on the pianist that have to be heard to be believed. There’s nothing easy about this music and Goldstone manages to make his piano into a full orchestra but never with any harshness. This would be, along with the Enesco piece, interesting to see performed via a DVD. Goldstone pulls it off superbly well, and it stays with you.
I’ve heard more virtuosic performances of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, Cziffra for one (and in several recordings he made, commercial and otherwise). This is a somewhat more labored performance that misses the true Hungarian spirit, but still indicates the full command Goldstone has at the keyboard. Falla’s Fantasia baetica was a favourite of Alicia de Larrocha, whose performance is more convincing … it’s simply that Spanish blood. Again, Mr. Goldstone certainly is no slouch, to use a term I don’t particularly like.
The Haydn/Goldstone “Gypsy Rondo,” with Schubert’s cadenza is a most interesting work because you’ll find yourself listening for Schubert’s cadenza. Only 3:30 timewise, but a nice addition to recording transcription literature and obviously enjoyed being played by Goldstone.
The Dohnányi Rhapsody in F# Minor is also an ear-catcher, along with Augusta Holmès (1847-1903) Reverie tzigane, the latter completely new to records. The Busoni and Brahms pieces, while not new to records, round out this truly striking piano recital.
The sound is natural without the usual cavernous cathedral/church acoustics, the unnamed piano decent and in-tune (unlike some other Divine Art CDs I have heard), and Goldstone’s notes informative and thorough.
It was a distinct pleasure to hear this entire recording. Highly recommended.