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Alan Becker
American Record Guide, July 2011

The prospect of listening to an entire disc of Schubert’s Dances is not something I was looking forward to. Of course no one commands that they be heard all at once, and it is usually better to do a few at a time. From the opening set of 16 German Dances D 783 it was evident that Bordoni had clearly thought things through, and commanded my attention by the variety of his playing and the grace and power brought to bear on each piece. All are dances, but the radiance of his playing avoided any feeling of sameness, and his finesse in appoggiaturas brought smiles of satisfaction to this listener.

Bordoni, born in Italy, seems to have made a specially of dances. His two-disc set of Schubert’s Waltzes was originally issued in the late 1970s to considerable acclaim. He has also had an active performing career, although few would recognize the name, probably because of the fringe repertory he has been associated with—at least in recordings.

The other sets of dances—17 German Dances D 366, 12 Viennese Dances D 128, and 12 Landler D 790—are all performed with the combination of contrast, vigor, and nuance one would expect from a first-rate artist. To this aggregate of dances Bordoni has added the little Variation contributed at the request of Antonio Diabelli from 50 different composers who were to contribute one Variation apiece. Beethoven, of course, dared to be different by sending in 33 Variations of his own.

Also included are the 11 Ecossaises D 781, 2 Scherzi D 593, A little Minuet D 600, and the brief Galop D 735. Without any ill effects, I listened to more than half the program before taking a break. While the notes are merely adequate, the sound engineering is fantastic—the dynamic range is wide and the joy of listening is never impeded by any hint of aural fatigue.

James Manheim, March 2011

Originally recorded in 1994 and reissued in 2007 by the small Swiss label Divox, these performances touch on a little-heard aspect of his output: his more than 400 short dances for piano, of which a few dozen are heard here. These dated from all the phases of Schubert’s career, and it’s not always clear for what purpose he wrote them. Many are purely occasional works, but Italian pianist Paolo Bordoni gives them a somewhat weighty reading overall and finds works that justify his approach, which wouldn’t work for every set of dances. But here, in sets from the middle and later part of Schubert’s career, the music can stand up to the dynamic contrasts and the big sound Bordoni gives them. The 12 Ländler, D. 790, range over quite a bit of harmonic territory, for example, and he catches the balance and flow among them nicely, with pauses between the individual dances but not enough to disrupt the sense of the group as a whole. Bordoni also unearths some very unusual pieces to serve as entr’actes, including the single variation Schubert wrote on in response to Anton Diabelli’s requests for variations on his waltz—the one for which Beethoven sent in 33. It’s quite a somber little piece, and it makes you wonder why Schubert happened to think in those terms. In the earlier sets of dances Bordoni’s readings feel a bit heavy, but the program works well on balance. Notes are in German and English…

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