Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Funérailles, S.173 no.7 (1849) [13:36]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1826)
Sonata in A flat, op.110 (1821) [21:35]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Sonata no.2 in G minor, op.22 (1833-38) [20:25]
Alexander SKRIABIN (1872-1915)
Sonata no.5, op.53 (1907) [15:21]
Andrea Vigna-Taglianti (piano)
rec. 26 December 2009. DDD
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.
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Vigna-Taglianti’s audiences for now at least should not waste their money on this product.