will warmly welcome this slice of Kentner’s discography. It
brings to wider notice his majestic, if occasionally idiosyncratic
Liszt and a pioneering and terrific Balakirev Sonata, topped
and tailed by Kentner’s own naughty Walton arrangement and a
vital Chopin Bolero. The recordings range between 1938 and 1951.
he may best and most luminously be remembered for his staggering
recording of Lyapunov’s Transcendental Studies (on APR) there
was far more to him on disc than that. These recordings go a
considerable distance in showing us just how and why he was
so widely admired.
Csárdás macabre is a riotous amalgam of Kentner’s own
instinctive textual emendations and a fulsome command of the
authentic Lisztian tradition, served up with suitably malign
command. The final paragraphs are an exercise in hypnotically
accomplished control. Venezia e Napoli, of which we have
the Gondoliera and Tarantella, is similarly engaged and inspired.
The rubati Kentner employs are frequently dramatic and yet,
perhaps paradoxically, for all their refusal to countenance
metrical strictures, they work within the music to illuminate
it, rather than sounding crass and indulgently applied on it.
The Tarantella in particular is a rich, fabulous example of
Kentner’s gifts a Liszt player. His more subtle and affecting
side can be gauged from the brief En rêve, so deftly coloured and nourished.
Balakirev sonata pays testament to his enquiring mind to the
repertoire and the colouristic means at his disposal the better
to explore such works. The shifting subtlety of the left hand
voicings in the opening Andantino inflects the music with motion
and eloquence. Similarly the more raucous rhythmic profile of
the ensuing Mazurka show just how aptly Kentner characterises
every phrase, every quixotic shift and mood. Such matters resurface
in the Bolero which one might imagine would be meat and drink
to Kentner’s active control of dance rhythms – and so it proves.
He adds a magician’s control of rubati once again to maximal
effect. This is an aspect of Kentner’s art confirmed by his
own Walton movement, which is presented with sly wit.
of the odder works in his discography was the 1940 collaboration
with Constant Lambert in the latter’s orchestration of Liszt’s
Dante Sonata or more properly Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata. Lambert orchestrated it for a Sadler’s Wells-Frederick Ashton choreography.
It sounds crazily convincing and Kentner shows no signs of inhibition
now for the bad news. The transfers are credited to producers
and audio restoration engineers Marina and Victor Ledin and
to restoration mastering engineer Amthony Casuccio. Whoever
has done what they are dreadfully dull, opaque and disappointing.
Highs have been ruthlessly disposed of and what remains is treble
starved and soupy. There’s no audible difference between 1938
and 1951 sides, such has been the restoration aesthetic. You
will need a huge treble boost even to begin to approach the
original sound; if you don’t have a graphic equalizer or any
other means to boost treble you will be stuck. This murky kind
of thing simply won’t do.
- superb performances, a fascinating release, but very poor