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Discussion: Chopin: Ballades, Fantasie Op. 49 etc. - Burkard Schliessmann

Posts: 4

Post by beardawgs November 18, 2011 (1 of 4)
Well, it's been many years since I participated last time in this forum. I'm compelled to say few words now, it looks like I have to defend my review about this unfortunate recording again, only this time I guess I should do it in public. Only recently I spotted a review by Adrian Cue that questions my reasons and my tone for leaving a negative review for this frankly rather horrible recording. So, since I'm called in personally, I guess I should explain myself:
I can only assume that Adrian Cue wasn't using this website back in 2004 when all hell broke lose in SA-CD.net cyber space because of fake review and marks fixing for this particular title. Very quickly after I published the review in question, a new one appeared calming that BS is a God's gift pianist and this recording is the most amazing ever recorded (not in so many words, I can't remember the exact phrasing, but I'm sure you get the drift). As it turned out, the review was copied verbatim from BS's personal website and it was referring to some live concert, not even to this CD. And it was pretty clear that the user who left it was probably Mr BS pianist himself, so the whole thing was removed when the fraud was exposed.
Though, it seems that he quickly employed services of 'Leonarda' Musicologue Dr. Yvonne Grolik, a fellow audiophile I'm sure, splashing all over her envy-worthy credentials, but missing out to post any other review for any other performer featured here in the last 8 years (though to be fair, I'm sure she must be really busy lecturing about German romantics, Schumann in particular). Of course, in her ears BS is bees-knees of a pianist, and claims that: "To experience the poetic virtuosity of Burkard Schliessmann’s pianistic art is deeply satisfying".
Now, after all that rather obvious review-stuffing (visibly reflected in the numbers of helpful votes, or to be precise the lack of them), Adrian Cue is questioning my credentials for writing a bad review. And he doesn't think that my review is helpful either. Fair enough, I did try really hard to explain in four long and detailed paragraphs what aspects of BS' interpretation I didn't find 'deeply satisfying'. If he disagrees with me, fair enough again, but disagreeing is not the same as 'not helpful'. Also, out of interest, why visiting Poland would anyone under the Sun give any insight into Chopin (who mostly lived in Paris)? And no, I have nothing personal against BS, but the events that happened after I published my review proved to me that he is not just a below average pianist, but that he is willing to use deception in order to heal his bruised ego and probably sell few more CDs to unsuspecting public.
And yes, I know, now I sound just like I had my ego bruised too, and maybe I have - but hold on, I gotta ask Adrian Cue where in his review he actually says anything about BS' performance? I could see only two sentences referring to the actual reviewed CD, and in one of them, he is actually agreeing with me. All the rest is about wine (French wine gets 5 stars from me any day!), Harnoncourt and early music performing practices. If I'm to be dismissed as 'unhelpful' or even having a personal vendetta against a pianist I couldn't care less, at least do it with an argument or two, otherwise, you'll end up sounding a bit too 'helpful' like Dr Grolik, perish the thought.

Post by nucaleena November 19, 2011 (2 of 4)
Worst SACD performance I have heard in over 8 years. I reviewed this disc way back then before BS started demanding that beardawgs and I be removed from the site for daring to question his credentials (refer review on amazon.co.uk). Within months a Gramophone reviewer postaed a review of another BS Chopin disc which absolutely tore BS' performance apart and made beardawgs and I look like admirers by comparison. In sum, avoid this disc!!

Post by beardawgs November 19, 2011 (3 of 4)
Dear God Paul, it's been a while! So good to see you alive and kicking!

Post by beardawgs November 19, 2011 (4 of 4)
And to those willing to hear presumably unbiased views of a Gramophone reviewer, here it is in full:

Burkard Schliessmann Godowsky Symphonic Metamorphoses on Waltzes and Themes of J Strauss Schubert/Liszt Auf dem Wasser zu singen. ErlkOnig. Die Forelle. Standchen, `Leise flehen'. Standchen. Auftenhalt; Chopin Four Ballades. Barcarolle, Op 60. Fantasie, Op 49. Polonaise No 7, Polonaise-fantaisie'. Waltz No 7, Op 64 No 2

Burkard Schliessmannpf ArtHaus Musik 0 (1 + 1 DVD-A) 100 455 (143' • NTSC • 4:3 • PCM stereo

A much lauded player stays earthbound in music which should take flight

From time to time you hear musicians who are attracted, like moths to a flame, to music beyond their limited range. Burkard Schliessmann's long and punishing programme suggests a born romantic able to free himself from every intricacy and, gloriously unfettered, convey his love for the past, whether richly gilded or poetically profound. Alas, virtually all his performances are so cautious and stolid that one is left puzzled by his ambition.
The presentation, too, is baffling, telling us little about the pianist apart from his studies with Poldi Mildner (whose facility was much celebrated during the 1950s) and Shura Cherkassky (did Cherkassky ever teach?). It also informs us that Schliessmann is a keen scuba diver who also probes to the very rock bed of all he plays. Such information, together with critical estimates quoted on the sleeve ('this young man is the "real deal"), is misleading. Certainly the pianist's way with Godowsky is the reverse of scintillating or sophisticated. In the Die Fledermaus paraphrase, prime voices are too often drowned in Godowsky's snaking and luxuriant polyphony. A lack of verve and temperamental warmth are also inimical to the monstrous virtuoso challenge of KUnstlerleben — a far cry from Earl Wild's stunning ease and agility (Philips, nla). Alt Wien (a decadent charmer if ever there was one) lacks even a hint of Cherkassky's impish delight in such confectionery, and the selection from Liszt's far from altruistic tributes to Schubert is similarly earthbound.
Schliessmann is happier in the rhetorical storms of the Chopin Ballades, but he makes heavy weather of their difficulties and easily lapses into self-consciousness. His way with the Third Ballade, in particular, is oddly boorish for music for the most part in radiant A flat. The Barcarolle and Polonaise-fantaisie fall victim to pedantry (never more so than in the Barcarolle's miraculous final pages) and this sad issue is not redeemed by a performance of the C sharp minor Waltz so embedded in fancy and irrelevant camera work that it is hard to take seriously.
Bryce Morrison

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