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<<  -- 2 --  John Bell Young    AN AVIATOR OF THE PIANO


What a pity! Here is a pianist whose pristine command of the instrument is matched equally by his poetic sensibility. Feinberg is, in effect, a kind of aviator of the piano whose playing, so thoroughly liberated by sharp reflexes and an even sharper intellect, allows him to set music to flight. In one abundantly detailed performance after another, he easily demonstrates why he was considered a pianist on par with Richter, Fyodorova and Gilels. His Bach is remarkable not only for its epigrammatic linearity, but for the extraordinary textual clarity he brings to bear in every measure. Neither romanticized nor clinical, his Bach is at once informed by scholarship and Baroque-era performance conventions, but never compromised by dreary didacticism. Indeed, his reading of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue is a kind of miracle. Few pianists, least of all Gould, were capable of imparting to each voice, with such affective transparency, its own special character while bringing to life, with deft inflection, the often internecine dialogues that inform it. In Beethoven's oft-played Appassionata, Mr Feinberg is again in his element, even on an out-of-tune instrument, offering a taut, sculpted and rhythmically compelling account of this revolutionary work. Witness his steely, sparingly pedalled and ruthlessly specific account of the stormy finale -- surely one of the most exciting readings ever set to record. Navigating Schumann's delicate Prophet Bird with lapidary refinement, Feinberg brings Gieseking to mind for his magical manipulation of sonorities, always in the service of the musical ideals, but never for its own sake. In music of Liadov (the rarely performed Idylle), Liszt, Stanchinsky, as well as his own charming compositions, he is no less eloquent. In Scriabin, especially -- a composer with whom he was closely identified -- Feinberg proves a wizard, lending to the tender, somewhat wistful Fragilite an uncommon elegance and evanescent discretion given to only the most elite musical minds.

Included is a fascinating interview with Feinberg, smartly translated by Katya Arnold, that provides a unique occasion for Feinberg to give voice to his aesthetic and interpretive ideas, and thus bequeath to the rest of us a valuable intellectual legacy. The digital transfers from the original tapes are about as good as it gets, preserving the vitality of sound without entirely eliminating the surface noise of the old LPs.

Copyright © 3 July 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


Feinberg - first recordings

118 REISSUE 77'05" 1999 Arbiter Records

Samuel Feinberg, piano

Bach: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue; Three Preludes and Fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, book II; Bach-Feinberg: Two Chorale Preludes; Allegro from Concerto after Vivaldi; Beethoven: Sonata Op 57 'Appassionata'; Schumann: Waldszenen: Jagdlied, Prophet Bird; Liszt: Consolations Nos 5 and 6; Liadov: Idylle; Feinberg: Suite Op 11; Stanchinsky: Prelude in canonic form; Scriabin: Mazurka Op 25 No 7; Etude Op 42 No 3; Fragilite Op 51 No 1



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