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Brilliant Classics

Klára Würtz plays Romantic Piano Music
Serge RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Liebestraum No. 3 in A flat major
Mephisto Waltz No. 1
Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este
(From Années de Pèlerinage III)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Impromptu in B flat major Op. 142 No. 3 "Rosamunde"
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Arabesque Op. 18
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

L’isle joyeuse
Klára Würtz (piano)
Rachmaninov: National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine/Vladimir Sirenko
Recorded at the Chasse Theater, Breda, The Netherlands, 1 February, 2003
Schumann: Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie/Arie van Beek
Recorded at the Philharmonie Hereford, Germany, 16 November, 2001
CD 2 Recorded at the Hervormde Kerk Rhoon, The Netherlands, June 30-July 1, 2003
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92122 [63:36+69:53]


From the look of the front cover Brilliant Classics are concentrating on marketing this release with the attractive looks of the raven-haired soloist Klára Würtz, an approach that belies the heavyweight nature of the masterworks contained within.

Born in Hungary in 1965 pianist Klára Würtz has made several recordings for Brilliant Classics and we are told that, "in this set she plays her favourite works, for which she has a specific affection, in which she has something special to say, a personal response to great music." Before hearing this release I had not come across her playing and accomplished playing it is too. Unfortunately, virtually ever virtuoso pianist worth his or her salt has recorded the Schumann concerto and the second Rachmaninov concerto at least once. To say that the competition in the catalogues is tremendously fierce would be a gross understatement.

The Second Concerto from 1902 is one of Rachmaninov’s greatest and most popular works. With its success the composer managed to restore the faith in himself following a debilitating three year illness. It is hard to look further than the classic recording by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Symphony Orchestra under André Previn on Decca 460 632-2. Despite Klára Würtz’s fresh and sensitive reading and the able assistance of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine under Vladimir Sirenko she just cannot compete with Ashkenazy’s poetry and beauty in the Adagio and his dazzling and triumphant playing in the final movement’s Allegro scherzando.

Schumann composed his Piano Concerto in 1845 following his marriage to Clara. It is one of Schumann’s mightiest achievements and one the most brilliant jewels in the Romantic piano repertoire. My primary recommendation for the Schumann concerto is the version from Stephen Kovacevich with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis on Philips 446 192-2. I also have a special affection for the version by Murray Perahia with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado on Sony SK64577. Soloist Klára Würtz plays with a pleasing crispness and considerable brilliance. Würtz does not have that special distinctive quality of Murray Perahia who manages to combine power and boldness with freshness and passion. I should mention the fine playing from the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie under the direction of Arie van Beek who serve our soloist so well.

The second disc in the set is a Romantic recital of selections from Liszt, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin and Debussy. Würtz made this less than a year ago in the Hervormde Kerk Rhoon, Holland. In this excellent recital she offers very fine performances falling just short of distinction. Of the five Liszt works I was particularly impressed with her compelling and confident interpretation of the Liebestraum No. 3 in A flat major. I would also single out for particular praise the Schubert Impromptu in B flat major Op. 142 No. 3 "Rosamunde" which is engagingly and exuberantly played. However I was less happy with the reading of the final track, L’isle joyeuse by Debussy, where our soloist doesn’t, on this occasion, seem to have quite the control and subtlety required in this type of repertoire.

On this Brilliant Classics set Klára Würtz gives fine performances and deserves to be better known. But the competition is very fierce in all the works particularly the Schumann and Rachmaninov concertos.

Michael Cookson

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