Worth a listen
Rembrandt Q. Einstein | NY | 06/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When considering the purchase of this CD it is important to know and understand what this CD is and what it is not. This CD, produced by the budget label Naxos, is a well executed and competently performed rendition of Sigismund Thalbergs's (1812-1871) only piano concerto, and various other piano showpieces. This CD showcases a generous amount of pretty music and more than a few catchy melodies, however this is NOT great music by any stretch of the imagination. Thalberg (pronounced Tal-berg) was Franz Liszt's greatest musical adversary. Equally popular in their own time, they both regularly played to packed audiences and toured throughout Europe. Thalberg in fact was considered by many to be the superior pianist, though history it seems has chosen to overlook that little factoid.
The reason for his lack of recognition today is probably due to the fact that while he may have been the superior pianist, the quality of his work was markedly inferior to the quality of Liszt's. When you compare Thalberg's piano concerto with either of Liszt's, the difference can be heard. On a very fundamental level, Thalberg's concerto is confined, it's very period style work. Ergo it will be popular in its own time, but the minute musical tastes change, the piece will die. Liszt's work does not suffer from this affliction. It is transcendent of time. While Thalberg's concerto is stuck in the romantic era, Liszt's was able to survive changing tastes and go on into our own time.
Also presented on this CD are a few of Thalberg's solo piano works. Preeminent among them is the Souvenirs de Beethoven (Which is over 17 minutes long). And there's not really all that much to be said about either. It's a rather basic piano transcription of Beethoven's 7th. Liszt in fact did his own version of the 7th, which as you can probably expect is superior. The best of the solo piano showpieces presented is without doubt the Canzonette Italienne. It presents the listener with tight composition, and a devilishly catchy melody.
I would now like to reiterate that this is not bad music. It is without doubt the result of a highly skilled performer and a competent if not brilliant composer. Francesco Nicolosi on piano and Andrew Mogrelia leading the Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra do an excellent job in the performance of these works.
While you won't listen to this CD over and over again, you will not dislike it either. The works are all very charming and worth a listen.
Therefore I recommend them
Rembrandt Q. Einstein"
Appealing music in (at least a little) more than serviceable
G.D. | Norway | 06/12/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871) is still famous as a rival of Liszt (although they did, apparently, not view themselves as such), and he was surely a superb pianist. He could not match Liszt's compositional skills, however, but his concerto is still a charming and attractive work, well worth the occasional airing (and a sure candidate for the Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto series). It is an early work, not very original - the companion pieces here are more interesting in that respect - but well-crafted and an excellent vehicle for a virtuousic pianist to show of his or her skills.
Therefore it is a little unfortunate that the performances here are so cautious-sounding. Indeed, the playing sounds for the most time a little flat and uninvolved - there is little of the vitality and energy a work like this so desperately needs, and the whole thing comes across as worthy and forgettable. Interestingly, the solo works come across with much more fire and drama - a little surprising because it doesn't sound as if it is the Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Mogrelia that mainly hangs fire in the concerto. Anyway, the quality of these solo pieces are variable, even if it is all rather charming and easily digested. The sound quality is in fact very good, with a good balance and a fine sense of perspective. Overall, then, this is a worthwhile disc, but I am still waiting for a really satisfactory recording of the concerto."