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INCOMPARABLE PERFORMANCES

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'... refined music making ...'

Pola Baytelman plays Albéniz and Ginastera -
by JOHN BELL YOUNG

 

Evidently Spanish music is in season. The last year alone has born witness to the release of several impressive recordings and re-releases, not the least of which is Guillermo Gonzalez's masterful account of Iberia for Naxos. And though word has it that Michel Block's sumptuous set on EMI is due for re-release, to date we are still waiting.

But few have put the bloom on this exquisite music as persuasively and with such intoxicating finesse as Pola Baytelman, a Chilean-born pianist now teaching at Skidmore College in New York. In one breathtaking musical vignette after another, Ms Baytelman assuages the ear with her efflorescent bouquets of sound, her vivacious rhythm and idiomatic sensibility.

Albéniz Iberia - Pola Baytelman, pianist (p) 2001 Idéale/EMI/Virgin

From the first notes of the melancholy Evocación, Ms Baytelman's playing is nothing if not a technicolor celebration of the work's innumerable Andalusianisms. Indeed, in her hands, every bit the equal to De Larrocha's, music jumps to life so vividly as to conjure as much as to convey the essence of the culture it portrays. How graciously she alights on the florid fandango that informs the alluring Rondeña [listen -- track 4] and its coterie of imaginary castanets, while coaxing from the gentle Almería that luxurious mixture of an arid climate and the salty scent of the Mediterranean. Indeed, in the poly-rhythms that form Almería's sullen heart, and which Albéniz marks expressif et bien chanté, Ms Baytelman weaves magic. Here is a pianist who not only understands the power of quiescence, but celebrates it: no silence is taken for granted, no pianissimo is abused for something it is not, no fermata is dismissed as excessive or unnecessary.

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Copyright © 7 July 2001 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA

 

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CD INFORMATION - ELAN 82288

PURCHASE THIS SET FROM ELAN RECORDINGS

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