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Sergio Fiorentino. A Recital of Concert Encores
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Ferrucio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Nun Komm’ der Heiden Heiland
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Kinderszenen Op. 15 – Träumerei
Phantasiestücke Op. 12 – Warum? Fabel and Traumeswirren
Sonata No. 3 in F minor Op. 14 – Quasi variazioni (Third Movement)
Waldeszenen Op. 82 – Vogel als Prophet
Toccata in C major Op. 7
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Two Preludes
La fille aux Cheveux de lin
Feux d’artifice
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)

Gymnopédies Nos. 1-3
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)

Melodie in F
Anatol LIADOV (1855-1914)

A Musical Snuff Box. Op 32
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)

Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 9/1
Nocturne in D flat Op. 9/2
Etude in C sharp minor Op. 45/5
Etude in D sharp minor Op. 8/12
Sergio Fiorentino (piano)
Recorded variously in London, Guildford, Paris between 1959 and 1966


I recently reviewed an Encore disc by Joyce Hatto on the Concert Artist label and here comes another of their distinguished pianists, the late Sergio Fiorentino in a concert encore programme culled from a large variety of recording locations during his peripatetic 1960s. The programme constructed from these dates is a less Golden Age one than that recorded for the purpose of a specific disc by Hatto – and inevitably it has a somewhat puzzling construction, though not unappealingly catholic.

I feel I should get my one main disappointment out of the way. I don’t much like Fiorentino’s Bach-Busoni Chorale Preludes. Nun Komm’ der Heiden Heiland is really very slow with moments of exaggerated dynamics and some sentimental and over limpid phrasing. At such a slow speed it loses direction and there’s no sense of a Chorale arch. Nun freut euch is somewhat better with some attractive voicings but such as Feinberg, Petri and Fischer are simply on a different plane. His Schumann represents a return to form. Here his linearity and sense of pointing and clarity pay rich rewards. Of the three Phantasiestücke he essays, only Traumeswirren caused any concern with some questionable rubati. The movement from the F minor Sonata is fluent and articulate, with considerable and significant weight whilst a diaphanous quality veils Vogel als Prophet. The fearsome Toccata meets its match in Fiorentino whose equable but always splendidly weighted runs never detonate with Horowitzian bravado but provide a musically voiced foil. His Debussy is attractively limpid and full of technical, expressive and intellectual, as well as colouristic, control whilst of the Satie the second Gymnopédie has a confidential naturalness that sets it apart.

The nearest to an old school approach comes with old favourites such as the Rubinstein Mélodie in F and Liadov’s A Musical Snuff Box but the recital ends with Scriabin. The graded tonality of the Nocturne in D flat and the leonine grandeur of the Etude in C sharp minor vie with the propulsive linearity of the D sharp minor Etude. The recorded sound does it’s true vary slightly from venue to venue but the remastering has been expertly carried out and there is a consonance about the acoustics that makes them pleasing and appealing.

Jonathan Woolf


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