This is young Italian pianist Andrea Vigna-Taglianti's
second recording, and his first for independent Italian label
Sheva. His repertoire is focused on the 18th and 19th centuries,
ranging from Bach to Rachmaninov, with a few sorties into modernism.
This is reflected in this generously-timed recital, which offers
plenty of variety, with attractive, well-known works from four
stylistically diverse composers.
How far Vigna-Taglianti will penetrate in what is a very full,
competitive market for these works on Sheva's full-price
disc is a moot question, but one whose consideration may not
progress very far with this release. As professionally as Vigna-Taglianti
copes with the demands of the powerful work by Liszt with which
he opens his programme, the microphones unfortunately do not.
There is recurrent distortion in the loudest and deepest passages.
Technical shortfalls have been a common problem of earlier Sheva
releases, whether poor sound or slapdash editing. The latter
is not brilliant here, with several inexplicable clicks in the
Schumann and Skriabin. Overall audio quality is in any case
fatally compromised by this sonic aberration. Sound editing
software reveals the telltale sliced-off waveform peaks, typical
of lossy recording. Neither is it a one-off mistake: whilst
the first movement of the Beethoven comes out unscathed, the
second and third do not. In the Schumann, the second movement
is completely all right - although there is an inexplicable
click halfway through, at least on the review disc, The rest
are queered in the same horrid way as the Liszt and Schumann.
The Skriabin is even worse, particularly in the noisy central
section and ending. Either Sheva must have been hoping no one
would notice, which seems inconceivable, or they did not hear
it themselves. Either way, it is poor engineering and/or production
that reflects badly on this label.
Unfortunately, though Sheva will rightly be chastened in the
sales department for their carelessness, Vigna-Taglianti is
the real victim, having put his heart and mind into these recordings,
only to have them all but nullified by production ineptness.
The listener grinning and bearing it against recommendation
through this disc would find a gifted pianist full of promise.
There’s an appealing light-fingered expressiveness in the Schumann
that reminds the world what a fine work it is. This complements
the mephistophelian virtuosity that flies the audience through
Skriabin's jazzy, tonally ambiguous masterpiece.
Yet there is still hope. Perhaps the masters were fine after
all and Sheva can go back to them and this time employ someone
more competent to re-do the disc. That is the least they can
do for poor Vigna-Taglianti and his audiences.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk