Martin Berkofsky plays Liszt -
'... playing often as sensitive as one is likely to hear.'
The cover to this CD shows a painting of a grand piano floating way above an
enchanting little Icelandic town, with a horizontal Berkofsky just flying into
position for a Hungarian Rhapsody. Such acrobatics are reasonable comment
on Berkofsky's recovery to virtuoso pianism after a motorcycle accident that
smashed his left arm in eight places. I am almost tempted to fall off my bike
and see what happens. How to characterise Berkofsky's playing? You can either
manage a programme such as this, or you can't. Berkofsky emerges technically
triumphant, able to thunder when Liszt demands it (frequently enough), capable
of the tenderest quietness also, if not always mindful of Liszt's dynamic
instructions. I was glad to have in front of me the music for all four pieces,
as Berkofsky's rhythmic freedom might otherwise have thrown me. Whether Liszt
the pianist had always the future conductor at his finger ends I cannot know.
Probably not, and Berkofsky's aim towards overwhelming effect is in the best
tradition of Liszt's mane-shaking style.
Copyright © 21 January 2004
Robert Anderson, London UK