|Review by threerandot March 29, 2007 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
|2L have put together this involving recital from 2005 featuring the young pianist, Steffen Horn. Although Horn was only 30 at the time of this recording, he is an extremely gifted interpreter beyond his years, never having any difficulty at getting to the heart of this music. This concert contains works by Jan Ladislav Dusik, Edvard Grieg, Sergei Rachmaninov and Sergei Prokofiev.
Jan Ladislav Dusik's Sonata No. 1, Op. 45 begins this recital and has a lighthearted opening Allegro that would make any audience feel welcomed. The Adagio shows that this composer had a human heart and Horn communicates the emotion without overpowering the music. There is a dreamy waltz in the middle of this movement. The sonata closes with a jovial Rondo. To my ears I hear the influence of Mozart to some extent, in this composer, who is completely new to me.
Sergei Rachmaninov wrote a series of Prelude for the piano and these pieces give Horn the chance to show his virtuosity at Romantic music. There are five of these presented here, beginning with the melancholic No. 1 in F-sharp minor, displaying Horns ability to use tone color. The No. 2 in B minor is a true virtuoso piece and Horn treats us to a dazzling display of finger work but never hammering the keys! No. 4 allows us to catch our breath with this relaxing and romantic prelude in D major after the B major. There is almost a feeling of regret in this one. No. 5 in G major is a rustic dance which gets our attention with a romantic and softer middle section with passionate playing. Finally, No. 8 is a seductive prelude in E flat major with plenty of emotion. Horn never holds back, but never become too sentimental as well.
Next, are the Lyrical Pieces by Edvard Grieg. Each of these ones actually has a title, beginning with the nostalgic "from early days", which also features some fancy finger-work and a dance-like section. This movement is certainly a highlight in this collection. The "Peasant Song" is a simple and endearing tune and I think I can hear some influences of Schumann in this one. "Melancholy" is another slower work with darker emotions and plenty of lower notes accentuated by use of the pedals. Horn displays a delicate touch in this piece. Very reflective in mood. "Salon" is a more eclectic piece with plenty of changes in time and mood, never sitting still, almost impressionistic. "Ballad" is a slower movement giving the listener a chance to rest. It is meditative and sorrowful. Horn shows great sensitivity. Finally, this work ends with the lighthearted "Weddingday at Troldhaugen" which also gives Horn the chance to show more fireworks in a giant outburst that brings the piano right into the living room! The piece is romantic, somewhat sentimental and really makes you picture the joy and excitement of a wedding day. A sparkling and magical performance.
Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata No.1, Op. 1 is unlike any Prokofiev I have heard from the famous Russian composer and is very romantic in nature. I can hear the influence of Rachmaninov, or at least so it seems to my ears. The piece seems to require a great deal of concentration but Horn has no trouble pulling this one off. Dynamic and with plenty of tempo and dynamic changes there is plenty of fire in this work. Horn doesn't mind wearing his heart on his sleeve, plunging headlong into this virtuso piece. Another highlight in this disc.
Finally there is an encore with Grieg's Andante molto from his Sonata, Op. 7, a slow closing work after the flurry of notes in the prokofiev. As with much of the Grieg here, there is a depth of emotion and intimacy. There is also a more robust central section with more virtuoso displays for us and the audience. The piece ends this concert softly and poignantly.
In all of these works, Horn allows the music to speak directly to the listener and never allows his own stamp to overshadow the music. An accomplished and intelligent performer, it is easy to see that Horn will have a long career ahead of him.
The sound of this recording is very good indeed with plenty of intimacy with the performer. The audience applause is mostly from the rear speakers, putting us close to the front seats. The piano is very realistic with plenty of depth. I do detect perhaps a slight harshness or dryness to the sound, but this is a quibble. The hammers are never too overpowering and there is plenty of depth. As for the audiences response, I have noticed too that they are very reserved in their response, but are most enthusiastic afte the excellent Prokofiev performance. A pianist to watch for!
(This review only refers to the MCH portion of this disc).
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