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Pianos and Pianists - Consultant Editor Ates Orga

CD Conspectus

'Grandeur without mannerism'

on the art of



 << Continued from page 3 

The Liszt collection, I'm delighted to report, includes some of those late, enigmatic creations such as Schlaflos, Nuages gris, and Unstern where the composer's harmonic world disintegrated. But there are also exceptionally poetic renditions of such better-known earlier works as the six Consolations. The performances, ideally introspective, are oustanding. One looks forward to Vol II.

The third Fiorentino enthusiast is the director of the Newport Music Festival, Mark P. Malkovich III, who was responsible for arranging the pianist's visits to the Rhode Island festival starting in 1996. In July 1997 Fiorentino played an all-Chopin midnight recital of over 70 minutes, without interval, now issued on Newport Music Festival 3. The sound, as it is with every one of the discs mentioned, is excellent, but the really noteworthy aspect is the playing. If just a trifle rigid at first, Fiorentino soon moves into that rarified world of remarkable Chopin pianism that makes one want to hear the disc over and over again, savoring his sensitivity, poetry, and virility. There are groupings of two-to-four each of preludes, mazurkas, nocturnes and etudes, several delicious waltzes (including two encores), all nicely contrasted as to key and mood, plus the Third Ballade. For me, however, the most oustanding of these live performances is the Op 26 No. 1, Polonaise, which I've never heard played with more grandeur and authority. The Rubinstein versions of that C sharp minor work [EMI 1935; RCA 1951, 1964] have always appealed to me, but, now I’ve heard it, Fiorentino's is the one that I would most want to return to.


Copyright © Igor Kipnis, November 12th 1999


Visit the Igor Kipnis web site
for further biographical information and an illustrated discography


The Pianist Speaks

'I consider the discovery of the syncopated pedal ["the entrance of the pedal after the striking of the chords," developed by Liszt] the most important event in the history of piano playing. It constitutes the high water mark between the older and the present school. No more painstaking legato playing of chords by dint of fingering; no more dry playing without pedals in order to avoid blurs. The syncopated pedal was the emancipation of the wrist and arm from the keyboard'

- Moriz Rosenthal, 'If Liszt Should Come Back Again,' The Etude, April 1924

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