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Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, January 2011

When the Cuban-born pianist Jorge Bolet died in 1990 he was universally revered as one of the greatest interpreters of Liszt that there was ever likely to be. These Debussy performances are from 1989, the very end of Bolet’s life, when the 75-year-old pianist so identified with Liszt and Chopin investigated the next style of piano virtuosity in classical music—altogether dependent on the Romanticism of Liszt and Chopin that came before it but altogether different. Nor, for that matter, was Bolet all that partial here to the storms and displays of Liszt but rather the radical gentilities and even gossamer webs of Debussy. Yes, of course, he plays “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest” from Book I (what Lisztian could resist such storm-making?) but he seems far more attracted to what we now think of as Debussy’s “Impressionism.” In his final years of performing, Bolet liked programs that were part Chopin and part Debussy and you’ll understand why when you hear this disc., December 2010

PAGANINI, N.: Violin Concerto No. 1 / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Serenade melancolique / Valse-Scherzo (Midori, London Symphony, Slatkin) NC8802028
DEBUSSY, C.: Preludes, Book 1 and 2 (excerpts) (Bolet) NC8802026

There are so many wonderful ways to give gifts to music lovers this season that it is almost possible to pick the name of a CD out of a hat and simply get the lucky recipient whatever comes up. Several hats, rather—musical tastes do differ, after all, and it makes sense to pick from the right kind of hat so as to have a better chance of coming up with something that the person will really enjoy. One hat could be labeled “traditional classical music,” for example. A fine choice from that would be either of two new Newton Classics CDs of music recorded in the late 1980s. Someone interested in the Romantic violin and in youthful performances by the violinist Midori will surely be charmed by her strong handling of Paganini’s First Violin Concerto, which she plays with real flair in this 1987 recording, and by the warmth and expressivity she brings to two well-known and dark-tinged Tchaikovsky works. A person who prefers the solo piano could scarcely go wrong with Jorge Bolet’s 1989 performance of 16 Chopin Préludes, in which the impressionistic tone painting comes through as clearly as does the virtuosity.

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11:49:00 PM, 18 April 2015
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