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Brilliant Classics

Für Elise - Favourite Piano Works
BEETHOVEN: Für Elise; SCHUMANN: Träumerei; CHOPIN: Valse, in C sharp minor op 64/2; MENDELSSOHN: Lied ohne Worte in E major op 19/1; DEBUSSY: Arabesque No 1;
SCHUBERT: Impromptu in A flat major op 142/2; BEETHOVEN: Adagio from Sonata Pathétique op 13; SCHUMANN: Des Abends from Fantasiestücke op 12; CHOPIN: Prelude in D flat major op 28/15 "Regentropfen"; MENDELSSOHN: Venetianisches Gondellied op 30/6; LISZT: Liebestraum; BRAHMS: Intermezzo in E flat major op 117/1; CHOPIN: Nocturne in B flat minor op 9/1; Nocturne in E flat major op 9/2; BEETHOVEN: Adagio from Mondschein Sonata; DEBUSSY: Clair de lune
Misha Goldstein (piano), Martijn van den Hoek (piano Ė Chopin: Valse in C sharp minor)
No recording dates and venue(s) given. Includes book with all the recorded music.

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 well too.

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.

Göran Forsling

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