Classical 91.7 KUHA
, November 2012
Cziffra’s highly energetic, rhapsodic and totally masculine reading of the Grieg Concerto—marked by the Cziffra characteristics of a willingness to take risks and to get the very most out of the music—is a welcome addition to the catalogue…Cziffra is…a consummately tasteful pianist who knows every aspect of his instrument and how to exploit each one to the fullest. Being Georges Cziffra, of course, his octave passages and rapid filigree work are electrifying; the orchestra and conductor are in close partnership with him. A soulful bassoon solo in the middle of the first movement is particularly effective—with more vibrato and presence than one would expect of an orchestral bassoon player—and bear in mind that this is a broadcast recording, and there are no mixing tricks to give the bassoon greater prominence. The wonderful sense of fantasy and pianistic approximation of orchestral textures and a thrilling sense of the lower end of the piano in the cadenza of the first movement sound almost improvisational, like a more accurate Ervin Nyeregyházi. The second movement is all tenderness, and that marvelous sense of the lower end of the piano returns in the finale. Cziffra really understands Grieg. He is getting the orchestra on his own level—a brief flute solo in the finale is on a par with the bassoon solo in the first movement. He also has a sense of Grieg as he must have sounded as an extemporaneous player. At the end, the audience cannot restrain itself.
The Liszt E-flat Concerto is Cziffra in his element. Even in the limited-range monaural recording, the same sense of the bass of the piano—indeed, of all aspects of the piano—comes forth in vivid splendor. The violin solo in the first movement, which Liszt directs to be played by two violins, seems to be done in accord with the composer’s wishes…In the slow movement, Cziffra’s ability to change touch and tone as if on a whim is dazzlingly remarkable. Even his prolonged trills and tremolandi are full of color and meaning, expressive rather than mere pyrotechnics. His sense of delicacy and color in the scherzo…is noteworthy. This is musical virtuosity at its height.
The Hungarian Fantasia is a real demonstration of the pianist’s deep affinity for Liszt. All of the above-mentioned Cziffra virtues are superabundantly present. The orchestra responds to him as in the concerto…this is a performance for the ages, and it was indeed fortunate that it got recorded. That it is not a stereo spectacular does not matter in the least. It’s a spectacular, period.
The well-known Scarlatti D-major Sonata is a virtuoso work, and there is no lacking of virtuosity in this performance…The Cziffra virtues of a sense of the piano’s lower end, of pyrotechnics like rapid repeated notes and embellishments of all kinds are all present here, and they are thrilling; but all of these are very much in the spirit of Scarlatti. He gets a well-deserved hearty hand for each. © 2012 Classical 91.7 KUHA Read complete review