Notes and Editorial Reviews
Five years after my favorable 2002 review of George-Emmanuel Lazaridis’ Schumann solo CD debut I welcomed his equally distinctive Liszt B minor Sonata and Paganini Etudes. Lazaridis’ third solo disc, devoted to Schubert, consistently fascinates and almost always convinces.
In the A major sonata’s Allegro moderato Lazaridis sculpts the left-hand accompaniment’s widely spaced phrases with pointed independence alongside the right-hand theme, achieving maximum legato with minimum pedal. Similar textural clarity and shape informs the slow movement. If Lazaridis doesn’t quite let the Allegro finale take brisk and whimsical wing, the graceful, conversational inflections between the hands bring out inner voices and harmonic stresses
that elude many others.
Lazaridis’ lean sonority, unusually fast pace, and avoidance of heavy downbeat accents illuminates the symphonic profile of the Wanderer Fantasy’s first movement. Inevitably Lazaridis slows down his tightly held tempo for the octaves, but this small adjustment makes musical sense. The Adagio variations are slightly dry and detached next to the majestic Richter or poetic Perahia versions, while the Presto’s opening flourish is less dynamic and declamatory than expected. But the fugal Allegro compensates by way of Lazaridis’ power, forward drive, and rare combination of point and mass.
Leaving the B-flat sonata first movement’s winding right-hand themes to eloquently fend for themselves, Lazaridis pays detailed attention to the left hand’s steady repeated notes without lapsing into exaggeration. Unlike Barry Douglas’ unorthodox speeding up of the first ending’s dotted two-note phrases, Lazaridis goes the opposite route and pulls them back with just a hint of hesitation, only to lunge ahead on the climactic fortissimo chords. The Andante couldn’t be more “sostenuto” if it tried, thanks to Lazaridis’ discreet pedal tints and mantra-like steadiness. The Scherzo is lithe and wonderfully articulated in both hands. Subtle touches enhance repeated phrases in the finale: the long G-natural underplayed at the start, then intensified later on; the terse and dry first theme more generously pedaled and colored in down the line; the minor-key dotted rhythms’ explosive breadth; the second theme’s gentle, harmonically oriented expanding and contracting of phrase. Perhaps a tinge of self-awareness permeates Lazaridis’ attention to detail, yet he is that rare pianist who can give fresh voice to familiar works while being textually truthful.
Even in a catalog boasting excellent past and present D. 664/960 couplings (with or without the Wanderer Fantasy) from Klara Wurtz, Victor Rosenbaum, Anna Malikova, Rudolf Buchbinder, Philippe Cassard, Jeno Jando, Mikhail Kazakevich, Radu Lupu, and whomever might be “Joyce Hatto”, Lazaridis is worth hearing.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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