Liszt: Totentanz, Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 - Tiempo, Marin
Liszt: Dance of the Dead, Petrarch Sonnets, Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Sergio Tiempo (piano)
Orchestra della Svizzeria italiana
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Review by John Broggio - December 31, 2011
A wonderful disc of pianism from Sergio Tiempo in which is he slightly let down by both his orchestra and the lack of MCH sound.
Opening with Liszt's Totentanz, the only competing version (with orchestra) comes from Liszt: 2 Piano Concertos - Cohen, Neschling which, as a studio account, has a naturally quieter sonic floor. Pianistically there is little to choose between Cohen and Tiempo but with Tiempo one can certainly feel the sense of occasion that generates a level of electricity in the playing that is hard to match and is very exciting (even on repetition). The remaining Liszt (the 3 Petrarch Sonnets) are studio accounts and one appreciates the total silence at moments of repose; in contrast with the Totentanz, this is virtuosity at the service of poetic art and Tiempo provides poetry and art in spades. Very high class playing indeed.
To conclude, Tiempo offers another live recording: Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto. In this, disregarding the numerous alternatives on other media, there are 2 superlative accounts Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 - Volodos / Ozawa and Tchaikovsky, Medtner: Piano Concertos No. 1 - Sudbin, Neschling. In style, Tiempo is nearer to Volodos - that is to say, imperious and grand without ever becoming self-regarding or navel-gazing (Sudbin takes a more restrained approach). Pianistically and musically, Tiempo is marvellous at every moment without ever perhaps escaping the shadows of such greats as, say, Argerich. Under Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, it cannot escape notice that the Orchestra della Svizzeria italiana do not react as swiftly or as uniformly as they did under Ion Marin's baton in the Liszt. Some strange crescendo's through sustained notes do not help Tiempo's cause either for the orchestral playing becomes hackneyed in exactly the same way that Tiempo's sensitive playing is trying not to be!
Lastly, the sound is a mixed bag - the studio Liszt is very good indeed and in both concerto's the piano sound is also captured well. The OdSi is very small (only 4 cellos!) and frequently sounds it - the strings are often overwhelmed in a way that few will like let alone be familiar with. Applause is included - indeed it would be impossible to excise without editing - and this is where lack of MCH is a real drawback. Up until the tumults of applause begin, the stereo is reasonably convincing of hall ambience but no seat ever has applause only from in front of the listener! Very frustrating to be dragged back into one's listening room so suddenly...
Great pianism but music lovers are better served (overall) elsewhere - principally by Cohen (Liszt) and Volodos (Tchaikovsky).
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