is the second half of the Moscow
recital which opened with a selection of Bach transcriptions
– very romantic in conception, as I pointed out in my review.
Here again the picture emerges of an essentially romantic “golden
age” pianist, not always at his ease outside the elected repertoire
of this type of artist.
hear Prokofief played with passion and warmth may be salutary
after the worst of today’s brittle, machine-like performances,
but the lower dynamics are all but ignored and the ironic smile
and the Mozartian grace of this lover of fairy tales are less
evident. The Scriabin sounds as if they were learnt in a hurry;
again, the finer dynamics are ignored and the delicate interplay
of the hands in no.1 becomes a generalized welter of sound.
No. 11 allows him to demonstrate his control of a beautiful
singing line but he goes at no. 12 like bull at the gate. Very
exciting but unremittingly forte. An interesting comparison
in these last two is offered by a very different type of Russian
pianist, Nina Milkina, an artist whose repertoire was based
on the classics. In no. 11 she is more acutely aware of the
harmonic twists and she keeps the regular quaver accompaniment
pulsating like a Bach prelude. A haunting and memorable performance.
She may seem underpowered at the start of no. 12 but there is
steel as well and she builds up to a climax which is all the
more powerful for not having been pre-empted by what came before.
(Milkina’s disc is available on Untershrift Classics – see my
review for details).
wonder if the choice of Gershwin was more of a political statement
than an act of musical sympathy, rather like Aksel Schiøtz singing
“Night and Day” in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Like many classical musicians who
turn to this repertoire, he thinks no. 1 is all about letting
your hair down and making a hell of a noise; Gershwin’s own
recording shows it’s not like that at all. On the other hand
he drools over no. 2 less than certain of his colleagues; all
the same it takes courage to be as coolly laid-back with such
an apparently romantic tune as Gershwin was himself. I must
say I’m rather taken by Ginzburg’s coy way with no. 3. We know
from Gershwin’s recording that this is not what he wanted (and
man! he’s got rhythm!) but this is cute and perhaps makes the
piece sound less banal than usual.
about Ginzburg’s claims on posterity are banished, however,
in the Liszt. Somehow he seems a different, more complete pianist
when he plays this composer; no mere barnstormer, though he
can knock you for six, but full of delicacy, elegance and poetry.
And with that sense of artistry I missed in his Bach. A great
Chopin was I presume an encore, which might justify the omission
of an episode (but why not choose one of the many shorter mazurkas?).
Undoubtedly poetic, the performance seems a true mazurka only
on the last page. One would need to hear more of this artist’s
Chopin to comment further.
two discs making up this recital, plus the disc containing the
1949 recordings of the Liszt concertos, are part of a series
of six which will make available the small amount of live material
held by Ginzburg’s heirs. I don’t know what the others contain,
but I should very much like to hear this pianist in Schumann.
Those for whom one disc is enough are directed to the Liszt
concertos; lovers of great pianism will want all the Ginzburg
they can get, and on this disc the Liszt, at least, will match
their highest expectations.