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A Night at the Opera

Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto [6.53]; Reminiscences of Bellini's Norma [17.04]
Mélodie from Dance of the Blessed Spirits (Orfeo ed Euridice) [3.24]
Variations, op. 2, on 'La ci darem la mano' from Mozart's Don Giovanni [16.57]
The Bumble Bee
, from Tsar Saltan [1.10]
Ramble on the last love duet in Der Rosenkavalier [6.23]
Chamber Fantasy on Bizet's Carmen [7.56]
Isoldes Liebestod
, from Tristan und Isolde [6.57]
Fantasy on 'The Last Rose of Summer' [6.52]
Soirée de Vienne, op. 56 - Concert Paraphrase on Waltz Motifs from Die Fledermaus [5.49]
Anthony Goldstone (piano)
rec. St. John The Baptist Church, Alkborough, North Lincs, 2008; 2005 (Busoni). DDD
DIVINE ART DDA25067 [79.27]


Experience Classicsonline

Anthony Goldstone has been at the forefront of imaginative recital and recording programming for many years. In recent years he has recorded his own scholarly yet practical solutions to the tantalising unfinished piano works of Schubert and Mozart. His recent disc Tzigane (Divine Art 25033) presented a feast of gypsy-inspired compositions both familiar and unfamiliar. His new CD takes a similar path; exploring the rich crop of opera-derived works yet including unusual pieces as well as more familiar ones. The disc opens with Liszt’s justifiably famous Paraphrase on Verdi’s Rigoletto. This was very popular with pianists of the so-called Golden Age. Godowsky, Cortot, de Pachmann and others all recorded this masterpiece of vocal realisation in piano form. Goldstone has produced one of the finest modern recordings. He really sings the melody with his fingers and the ornaments dance around the melodies. The Gluck piece is simply and effectively played - cool and reserved. The Chopin Variations are rarely heard, but should be played more often on the evidence here. It is a large-scale work that bursts through the supposed lightweight nature of the genre. In this Chopin presages the great works of Liszt. Goldstone is on fire in this work. He never loses momentum throughout the long structure. In complete contrast to the sonorous Chopin, The Bumble Bee of Rimsky-Korsakov delights with its crazy flight. The pianist shows needle-point delicacy. 

Percy Grainger’s Ramble on the Last Love-duet in ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ is another sumptuous rarity. Goldstone enjoys every purple chord sequence as Grainger out-Strausses Strauss! There is an excellent live recording played by Ronald Stevenson on APR and the two performances make for an interesting comparison; it’s definitely worth having both. Another huge Liszt work follows, his Reminiscences of Bellini’s ‘Norma’. Again Goldstone marshals enormous sonorities from the instrument; an overwhelming experience as Bellini’s themes are couched in ever more elaborate textures. Busoni’s aptly named Chamber Fantasy is a complete contrast. There is virtuosity required of course but the mood is less grandiose, more mysterious. The final pages sink into despair eschewing the grand finale of many such works. It is typical of Busoni in that he searches for the inner drama. This is one of the best recent performances of this work; listeners may recall Paul Jacobs’ fine reading from the LP era. Murray McLachlan has also recorded the Chamber Fantasy as part of a very interesting disc for Dunelm and the Michael von Zadora classic from 1930 is essential listening. Goldstone next plays the Liszt version of Wagner’s Isolde’s Liebestod. Liszt, rather like Busoni, explores the deep drama and conflict of the story and the tension of Wagner’s still extraordinary harmonies. There is at least one other transcription. It would be interesting to compare the various versions. Mendelssohn’s Fantasy on ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ is quite a simple work and Goldstone plays it with affection. The real bon-bon of the collection is Grunfeld’s Soirée de Vienne. It’s sheer delight from beginning to end! The Viennese lilt is irrepressible as Goldstone waltzes as ‘echt’ as Willi Boskowsky! Lovely music to end a brilliant disc. Anthony Goldstone has produced a gem of a disc with glorious melodies lovingly adorned by both composers and pianist. The sound is just right for my taste and the notes - by Goldstone - are rich in both information and enthusiasm. So take your seats at the opera house – the curtain is going up!

David Johnson

see also Review by Rob Barnett


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