Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871) was considered a major piano virtuoso of his time, whose claim to fame was the creation of the "three-handed technique", in which the two hands simultaneously executed a middle-register melody, bass notes and chords, and upper-register filigree. So effective was the piano writing that the textures never sounded cluttered, even at their most intricate and convoluted. Imagine Alkan stripped of his visionary quirks and symphonic breadth, or Liszt minus his extraordinary harmonic sense, and you've got Thalberg's pianistically rich yet musically barren aesthetic.
At least Stefan Irmer has the fingers, the sound, and the control to make the Op. 26 Etudes' daunting demands sound easy. He also
does well by the Rossini fantasies, although his slight caution and sobriety in the Moise Fantasie's note-gobbling climaxes shortchanges the music of its needed bravura (Francesco Nicolosi's less-vibrantly recorded Naxos rendition is a bit better in this regard, though not ideal). Still, this release (enhanced by Irmer's enthusiastically informative annotations) will hold more than passing appeal for collectors interested in Romantic piano music's faded byways.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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