I believe, will do wonders for Frank Braley's reputation. It’s
a superb recital by an artist whose maturity and questing mind
offer much. Intriguing and rewarding programming, too. The Liszt
- including one of the ever-fascinating late works - links naturally
in its forward-looking harmonies and its rarified textures to
Debussy's elusive Préludes. The Gershwin seems closer
to Impressionist in places because of the works preceding it.
filming is atmospheric, intimate and at all times tasteful.
The first Petrarch Sonnet we hear (No. 123) links to the spare
textures of later Liszt. Braley's playing is on one level quite
showy; he likes to take his hands a long way off the piano in
a 'flourish', for example. But overall this is almost whispered,
confidential playing that moves directly into No. 104 with its
excellently weighted left-hand lines and naturally delivered
right-hand roulades. Personally I found the suddenly slanted
keyboard camera angle effective although not everyone will agree.
is no applause between the Liszt items, so a screen fade leads
in to Lugubre gondola. True close-ups of the left-hand
show exactly Braley's touch. He sustains the intensity well.
Debussy begins with the submerged cathedral, taken quite fast.
Braley's idea is clearly to present a gradual but aurally obvious
opening-out to the climax - karate chop on the left-hand bare
low C! It sets in motion a Debussy Prélude sequence of
the very first calibre. The 'Sérénade interrompue' is highly
effective although the camera work made me a bit sea-sick. 'Anacapri'
shows great awareness of tone-colour; he seems almost to stroke
the keys. 'Les sons et les parfums' is again quite quick.
shows Braley enjoying himself, from the nicely-timed hesitations
of the beginning to hints of sleaze later on. 'This is great
Debussy playing' I wrote in my listening notes.
del Vino' is a distant memory of a dance, while 'La terrasse
des audiences' is harmonically potent - again that superb textural
awareness – and again that slanted camera angle! The West Wind
begins as gentle rustling holding the potential of the great
gusts that are to come. A quirky-in-the-extreme General Lavine
closes this successful sequence.
the solo version of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Tons
of sleaze here, and a nice use of change of camera angle when
the music moves from 'tutti' to 'solo'. This is playful Gershwin,
yet it is carefully considered, too – the horn cantus firmus
(in the original) is clearly invoked. The Third Prelude by the
same composer makes an excellent encore.
recommended. The intimacy of the late-night setting adds to