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  Sony Classical -
  88697639622 (2 discs)
  Volodos in Vienna
  Scriabin: Prelude Op. 37/1, Prelude Op. 11/16, Dance languide Op. 51/4, Guirlandes Op. 73/1, Sonata No. 7 Op. 64, Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales, Schumann: Waldszenen Op. 82, Liszt: Dante Sonata

Arcadi Volodos (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Volodos Plays Liszt      

Reviews: 4 show all

Site review by Geohominid January 24, 2010
Performance:   Sonics:    
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Review by Oakland February 23, 2010 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
What a commanding performance!

Because this disc (actually 2 discs) serves as my introduction to most of the compositions performed here (the Liszt Dante Sonata being a notable exception) I must talk in very general terms about the performances. I found the performances to be extraordinarily compelling and with more to discover with each listen. Certainly Volodos had me riveted and I’m not a solo piano kind of guy.

There is a wide range of compositions of almost dissimilar styles that Volodos, nevertheless, brings together in a most harmonious and triumphant way. There are compositions from Bach to Tchaikovsky with the featured performances from Scriabin, Ravel, Schumann and Liszt. And the playbill for this live performance could not have been more perfectly choreographed. The program begins softly with a Scriabin Prelude (actually two Preludes) that feature beautifully delicate cascades of mirthful and sparkling notes that at the same time are delightfully simple but nonetheless dazzling.

The performances then begins to heat up with a dazzling rendition of Ravel’s ‘Valses nobles et sentimentales”, taps down, although not entirely so, with a deeply thoughtful performance of Schumann’s “Waldszenen” and rises to a most passionate pulsating climax with a performance of Listz’s Dante Sonata (“Apres une Lecture du Dante”) that can best be described by me as explosive. Volodos’ energy is nothing short of indomitable. The performances then quietly ebbs with three short pieces to a befitting conclusion.

The recording (amazingly recorded in a *single* session) is exceptionally well done and faithfully “realistic”. The music is projected with a life-sized monaural majesty, neither two-channel nor multi-channel, but “no channel” (I listened in multi-channel). The vivid contrasts and dynamic range are extraordinary if not startling in places. The frequency bandwidth is extremely wide from top to bottom. (At the same time the low frequency foot pedal stumps prevalent in a couple of piano solo SACDs I have are completely avoided). Some audiophiles downplay the importance of the lowest octaves in acoustic music, especially at speed. Well, this disc, with full range playback, disavows that notion.

I sometimes will deem a recording (or parts of a recording) as very good or may be even excellent but not necessarily of “demonstration quality”. Only a vaunted few get that designation. For one thing the recording *really* must transport the listener to the venue (or in the case of small ensembles bring them into the listening room) and the performance should be uniquely compelling (it does not have to be "definitive"-how would most listeners in a demonstration for my friends [or yours truly] know that anyway). Well, no need for a disclaimer with respect to demonstration quality here, most especially for the Liszt Dante Sonata.

There are certain recordings that I find to be so compelling that they transcend genre for appreciation and enjoyment. In other words, you don’t have to “understand it" to "get it". For example, I believe that I could play the Dante Sonata, or the Ravel, or the Scriabin Sonata #7, for my jazz hound friends and that they will deeply appreciate Volodos’ endowed musicianship. Heck, I might even try it out on my sons who are devoted almost singularly to Hip Hop. In any event, I can’t wait to get my next guest in the listening chair to dazzle them with this near 17-minute tour de force (Dante Inferno) for performance and sound quality.

The recording, however, does not achieve perfection. During the quite passages there is a low level noise akin to a stylus gliding through the grooves on a slightly worn Lp. I have experienced this issue before with otherwise starkly quiet DSD recordings that are recorded before a live audience. (There is every indication in the liner notes that this is a DSD recording). This low level noise is evident in both two channel or multi-channel but slightly more noticeable in the latter. But let me clear this is *not* a big deal with the "Volodos in Vienna" and is only really noticeable when Volodos launches into the next composition before the audience settles down completely from applause.

Otherwise, the audience is very well behaved, keeping their applause powder dry until the last notes completely fade to ambient noise. I felt the audience was like me (the realism of the recording made me feel like an innermost part of the audience) in that they (we) were sometimes unsure when the piece was concluded so "we" waited for the more knowledgeable among us to initiate applause. In any event, the engineers could have easily dispatched with the applause without masking or otherwise compromising the lingering final chords of the performance. I am pleased the applause was retained; it would have seemed almost unnatural without it.

Robert C. Lang

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Review by arnaoutchot January 22, 2010 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is the recording with which Volodos is recommending himself among the handful of living piano legends, although to my opinion he already did so with his former Liszt and Schubert programmes. His playing in his recital in Vienna's historic Musikverein on March 1, 2009 is extremely nuanced and multi-faceted and shows an endless palette of sound colors. This is being helped by a very mixed program: Warming up with some shorter Scriabin piano pieces, Volodos is having his first climax in the "White Mass. Ths is followed by the impressionistic Valses of Ravel and the dark- romantic Waldszenen by Schumann. The final summit is reached with an extremely powerful Dante-Sonata of Franz Liszt. Some quiet encores (among them a beautiful Bach-Sicilienne after Vivaldi) round the recital off.

The sound is just what it should be: Clean, natural, lively and voluminous, never clanking and during the playing the audience is completely quiet. One of the best sounding solo piano recordings I know. Exactly why Sony is making us the present of a multichannel SACD again is not completely clear to me, the same program being issued as CD, DVD ad BluRay as well. But beggars can't be choosers, as they say, so grab this top recommendation. I learn that this SACD is produced in Europe and only available in the US as an import.

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