Sergio Tiempo is one of the leading pianists of our time, and this interesting disc of Liszt and Tchaikovsky finds him on good form in repertoire that suits him admirably. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 may be one of the best loved of all his compositions, and of all piano concertos too, but it is also one of the most Lisztian of Tchaikovsky’s works. He admired the earlier master and frequently turned towards him as an example, so to couple the concerto as here with music by Liszt is an eminently suitable choice.
Tiempo galvanises the performance with a thrilling opening phrase, and though the relationship with the orchestra doesn’t sustain this kindRead more of frisson throughout, the performance always sounds well. The vivacity of the finale and above all, the charm of the central movement, bring many moments to savour.
Totentanz, first performed by Hans von Bülow at The Hague in 1865, is the master’s greatest work for piano and orchestra, despite the two concertos. It takes the form of a powerful set of variations on the Medieval plainchant the
Dies Irae, which Liszt first encountered in the finale of Berlioz’s
Symphonie Fantastique, of which he made a notable piano transcription. Tiempo’s live performance has real electricity, with slightly faster tempi than the benchmark recording by Krystian Zimerman (DG 423 571-2) but rather less rhythmic bite. This may be down to the relative lack of depth in the recorded sound, but either way Tiempo’s performance is highly rewarding, with a good piano-orchestra balance and a satisfying collaboration of intent.
Perhaps the highlight of the disc comes in the three Petrarch Sonnets from the second book of
Années de Pèlerinage, a collection inspired by literary sources. The piano sound does full justice to Tiempo’s control of dynamic shadings, while his command of line and keyboard texture is no less impressive.
-- Terry Barfoot, MusicWeb International Read less
Great ReviewsFebruary 21, 2012By Frederic G. (Bruxelles, Belgium)See All My Reviews"Gramophone Choice, B.M., April 2012 `...In both Liszt's Totentanz and Tchaikovsky's First piano Concerto, [Sergio Tiempo] more than fulfills his early and extraordinary promises. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he may well be the most dazzling and spontaneous pianist of his generation. At every point he turns the heat up to near boiling point, joyfully and unapologetically flaunting his virtuoso bird-of-paradise feathers. His octave technique is superhuman: try the famous cannonade of octaves in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky,... Every bar sparks with a fearless, vivid and audacious life, and no other recent version of the Tchaikovsky comes within distance of this.Tiempo's endless pianistic resource is no less evident in Liszt's Petrarch Sonnets, their florid emotional live,..., ideally suited to such volatility and imagination. Well recorded and accompanied, with the pianist's own playful and perpective essay, this is a record in a thousand'. International Record Review, N.S., February 2012 `...Tiempo does indeed live for the moment, and the two concerto works are exciting and exhilarating in the extreme. Totentanz is exceptionally finely crafted, with faultless ensemble with conductor Ion Marin, and Tiempo copes with fiendish demands with light touch and crystalline clarity. Too often this is a heavy and bombastic work which sinks under its own weight, both in the musical content and the thickness of the scoring, both orchestral and pianistic, but there is none of this here. This is certainly a version to return to, with all the thrill and spontaneity of a live performance and a very impressive collaboration... Tiempo's impetuousness (in Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto) is undeniably exciting , driving through the finale's molto meno mosso into the Coda with an unmarked accelerando... Tiempo's Totentanz is especially impressive, but the solos Liszt works are finer still. Tiempo is not hidebound by barlines and regularity of metre, and there's a degree of rhythmic waywardness and freedom which allows him to unfold these works in an improvisatory manner. This is matched by a full-blooded tone, never forced, and pedaling of real subtlety, with the filigree passagework on the `Sonetto 104' totally clear, while the opening of `Sonetto 47' is a model of colouring, the shade of the oscillating left-hand chords contrasting with the light of the right-hand melody. With so many performances these days that are somewhat conservative and predictable, it's wonderful to encounter a young firebrand who has so much to say, with a prodigious technique married with the widest range of tone and colour'. The Sunday Time, S.P., 22 January 2012 `The two works here involving the orchestra were recorded live at Lugano Festival in 2004 and 2005, and show a pianist of electrifying brilliance. Liszt's Totentanz is, of course, all demonic brilliance - Tiempo attacks with ebullient swagger... The finale (of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto) bristles with excitement.' The Independent, A.P., 29 January 2012 "A strong sense of lyricism and a taut technique colour Sergio Tiempo's live recording of Liszt's Totentanz and Tre Sonetti...and Tchaikovsky's first Piano Concerto... the hurtling passions and moments of introversion in the Tchaikovsky are cleverly navigated." The Daily Telegraph, G.N., January 2012 `An exciting, full-blooded performance of Liszt's Totentanz, recorded live in 2004 ..., finds [Venezuelan pianist Sergio Tiempo] fully in command of the music's technical and stylistic facets. Confidence, dynamism, and personality also emanate from Tchaikovsky's First Concerto, recorded the following year : Tiempo and his conductor Rabinovitch-Barakovsky are certainly not afraid of exploring fresh interpretative avenues that contribute to a genuine feeling of spontaneity. The three Petrarch Sonnets attest to Tiempo's sensitivity and limpid touch.' Sacd.net, J.B., 06/01/2012 " ...this is virtuosity at the service of poetic art and Tiempo provides poetry and art in spades. Very high class playing indeed." (about the Petrarch Sonnets)"Report Abuse