From Mozart to Khachaturian [62:44]
Piano Works by Scarlatti, Schumann, Granados, Ginastera [66:56]
Rhapsody in Blue and Other Piano Works [65:46]
Full track listings at end of review.
Mauro Bertoli (piano)
rec. 25-27 March 2011. No venue given. DDD

These three CDs featuring Canada-based Italian pianist Mauro Bertoli (b.1983) were all recorded on consecutive days and, given the absence of any label or catalogue number, are presumably self-published. There is no date of publication, though it must be recent. Bertoli's website sheds no further light. Last year he released a similar 'private' CD with the violinist Lucia Cooreman Luque - see review.
The CD booklets are no more than four-sided leaflets containing Bertoli's biography - as reproduced verbatim from his website - and nothing else, beyond some cursory recording information and a big close-up photo of Bertoli's smiling face. The lack of any discussion - mention, indeed - of the featured works or their composers is going to be a deterrent to many: a composer listed simply as "E.Granados" or "A.Ginastera", with no dates attached to the name or music.This is not much help to prospective listeners wondering whether they will like the music and wanting to find out more, whether beforehand or post purchase. At the very least Bertoli might have included a personal note explaining his choice of programme.
The biography does contain a 'personal recommendation' by veteran French pianist/conductor Philippe Entremont, which at least suggests that Bertoli is a pianist worth hearing - and so it turns out. Not only does he have the technique and panache to dazzle in Granados's lyrical note-spectacular, the Allegro de Concierto, Schumann's underrated Paganini Studies or the last of Ginastera's colourful Argentinean Dances, but also the poetry to move heart and soul in Brahms's Intermezzo in A or Pärt's simple, but startlingly poignant Für Alina, and to evoke the elegiac qualities of Liszt's E minor Hungarian Rhapsody.
Bertoli is thankfully no Flash Harry: even in Liszt's quirkier, sometimes riotous D flat Rhapsody he eschews self-indulgence and gives the listener the composer rather than the performer - a far cry from certain other young pianists. He seems equally at home playing Scarlatti, Shostakovich or Schumann, although it is in the lattermost's delightful works that he seems to exude particular enjoyment, which the listener cannot help but share.
The three recitals all follow a similar pattern: some attractive 19th century repertoire based around Schumann or Liszt, with various extensions forward into the 20th century and the odd foray back into the 1800s. The three discs blend a happy mix of lighter fare - the pieces by Mozart, Gershwin, Pärt, Scarlatti and Ginastera - with more red-blooded pianism from Liszt and Granados, whilst Schumann and Brahms cover the middle ground. The relatively rare Rhapsody in Blue in Gershwin's solo piano version - which plays down the gaudy 'Hollywoodness' of either of those for orchestra or even for piano duo - is a highlight of its disc: Bertoli is riveting. His Steinway D, by the way, has a nicely rounded tone and is expertly recorded in studio-grade audio - for some, perhaps, a shade too closely miked for the very best results.
Somewhat brassily, some pieces turn up on separate CDs: the Schumann Toccata, the Brahms Intermezzo and Granados' Allegro de Concierto. Despite the assurances of the dates provided, these are in fact identical recordings, although in fairness this only robs each disc of seven minutes, and of course is not an issue for anyone buying only one disc. On the other hand, those who can afford it are unlikely to regret acquiring all three.
Collected reviews and contact at
The technique and panache to dazzle and the poetry to move heart and soul.
From Mozart to Khachaturian
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Rondo in F, K.494 [7:33]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Intermezzo in A, op.118 no.2 [6:40]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Sonata for the Young, op.118 no.2 [13:44]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody in E minor 'Héroïde-élégiaque', S.244 no.5 [10:46]
Hungarian Rhapsody in D flat, S.244 no.6 [7:37]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Allegro de Concierto [7:25]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Three Fantastic Dances, op.5 [3:50]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Toccata in E flat minor [5:08] 

Piano Works by Scarlatti, Schumann, Granados, Ginastera

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in E minor, K.98 [2:54]
Sonata in G, K.146 [2:54]
Sonata in E, K.531[2:54]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Paganini-Etüden, op.3 [15:57]
Toccata in C, op.7 [7:24]
Nachtstücke, op.23 [18:22]
Enrique GRANADOS (1878-1948)
Allegro de Concierto [7:25]
Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983)
Danzas Argentinas, op.2 [8:23]
Rhapsody in Blue and Other Piano Works
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Papillons, op.2 [18:00]
Toccata in C, op.7 [7:24]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Intermezzo in A, op.118 no.2 [6:40]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Chapelle de Guillaume Tell (no.1 from: Années de Pèlerinage - Suisse, S.160) [7:45]
Romance (Ô Pourquoi Donc), S.169 [3:25]
Sancta Dorothea, S.187 [2:30]
Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)
Für Alina [2:24]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Rhapsody in Blue [17:38]