This is a record that
can be used in several different ways.
The most obvious one would be to put
it in the CD-player and just listen,
preferably late at night and by candle-light.
The repertoire is just right, mostly
well-known pieces of a meditative character.
Thatís what we did, my wife and I, after
a good dinner, setting the volume fairly
low to be able to talk, but, interestingly,
after a while we stopped talking and
turned up the volume and listened through
the whole record, before we started
talking again. I even took out the quite
substantial book with all the music,
almost 60 pages, and followed some of
the music while listening. This, of
course, is Brilliantís intention: showing
what the printed music can sound like
when well played. The next step is to
play it yourself. Since there is a pedagogical
purpose I would have welcomed some written
notes concerning interpretative matters,
but that would have made the disc more
expensive and moreover it may be enough
just to listen and learn Ė if the playing
is instructive enough.
I chose to listen to
the record without making comparisons
with other versions but naturally there
are always memories of favourite recordings.
Generally speaking these are straightforward
readings, no eccentricities nor any
deeper revelations. It is all delivered
in a natural way and not devoid of personality.
Take the first piece, the oft-played
Für Elise. Beethoven doesnít
give much advice: poco moto (forward
moving) plus pp is all we get.
And forward moving it is in Misha Goldsteinís
version. He also applies a good deal
of rubato. Is that over-interpretation?
I would think that, to Beethoven, it
was so natural to give the music ebb-and-flow
that he didnít need to indicate it on
the music sheet. Some years ago I played
some very different versions of Für
Elise to a music listening group;
they were all surprised that they could
differ so much. The version that was
the least liked was Melvin Tanís, played
at a very strict tempo on a forte-piano
... and very staccato as well.
It was machine-gun-playing, very unlovable.
His version took 2:30; Misha Goldstein,
at 2:46 sounds relaxed and lovable.
Anatol Ugorski (DG) needs an unbelievable
3:58 to get through the piece. You get
the feeling he caresses poor Elise almost
erotically with both hands. In several
places the music almost comes to a stand-still
before he, caught red-handed, hurries
away to a favourite bar.
I also found Goldstein
dangerously slow in Schumannís Träumerei,
almost in the Ugorski-league, but so
deliciously does he carry through his
concept that I was won-over. And Schumann
gives the instruction ritardando
in several places. I could of course
go through the whole record, pointing
at this detail and that, but there is
not much point in that. The over-riding
impression is of a sound musician who
is doing a very good job with these
well-known pieces. Why Martijn van den
Hoek had to be called in to execute
Chopinís so called "Minute-Waltz"
I donít understand. Anyway he plays
The problem with the
program is the prevailing dreamlike
atmosphere. For late night listening
it is ideal, as I said, but with one
or two more up-tempo pieces it would
have been an even more satisfying recital.
On the other hand, who needs to listen
straight through the disc in one sitting?
I can think of several
worse ways of spending a few Euros or
pounds or dollars than buying this disc,
especially if there is a young aspiring
pianist in your surroundings who is
struggling with these pieces and needing
encouragement. The recorded sound is
good with an intimate feeling.