Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Brazilian pianist Arnaldo Cohen made an excellent recording of Liszt's B minor sonata for Carlton Classics in the early 1990s, I believe. If anything, his remake for BIS is even better, certainly from an engineering standpoint. You might describe his approach as a fusion of my two antipodal references, Arrau and Argerich. You get all of Arrau's rhetorical largesse and subjectivity, plus Argerich's febrile drive in the barnstorming opening pages and the notoriously difficult octaves. And although Cohen takes plenty of time to savor the lyrical passages prior to the Fughetta (perfectly paced so that you can hear the fleeting chromatic harmonic motion), the music never turns maudlin. I found myself
totally pulled in by Cohen's textural diversity and keen sense of which tempo best suits a section's expressive intent.
The remaining selections are equally first-class. Cohen binds Funérailles' brooding, sonorous outer sections and central octave episode into a narrative entity. He creates tension and release in Vallée d'Obermann through tone control and color, largely trusting Liszt's tempo directives (as Arrau also does). Because the Rhapsodie espagnol's variations unfold in a natural, cumulative progression, it's easy to notice Cohen's intelligent music-making before being wowed by his glittering, bravura technique. Don't miss this outstanding Liszt recital by one of the composer's most persuasive exponents.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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