International Piano

Schumann’s piano writing is among the most physically challenging (not to say exhausting) to master and intellectually exacting to disentangle. Unlike, say, Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn, whose leading voices are almost invariably clearly differentiated on the page, in many cases one has to place Schumann’s notes under the fingers before the process of weighting and counter-weighting can begin. To clarify Schumann’s middle-register saturated textures and make them sparkle is a challenge that Anthony Goldstone rises to with exhilarating aplomb in Carnaval. Even the densest of musical terrain possesses a ringing vibrancy, and such athletically virtuoso outbursts as ‘Papillons’, ‘Pause’ and the final coda are thrown off with thrilling abandon.

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!

—Julian Haylock