Those who heard Leslie Howard's delightful performances of sonic of these pieces at Wigmore Hall in London last June will be glad to know that he has recorded them, and others. Of the three longest items, Moszkowski's Carmen piece is imaginative and resourceful, and is thrown off with an aptly studied casualness, as are most of the works here. But Liszt's Soiree de Vienne No. 6 and Valse a Capriccio, the former based on Schubert, the latter on Donizetti, are more consequential. I have long hoped that some public pianist would rediscover the melodious and brilliant Soirees, and we could do with a recording of all nine from Howard. Meanwhile, he uses here an edition which omits several passages that appear in my copy of the music and which IRead more should have liked to hear him play. But in the dazzling Donizetti piece he quite surpasses the previous local recordings, by Gail Buckingham (Revolution RCF005, 2/ 71- nla) and Louis Kentner (Turnabout TV34310S, 6/71-nla).
In his sleeve-note Howard suggests the transcription of Rachmaninov's Thou art as beautiful as a flower, Op. 8 No. 2 to be at least partially the work of the composer, although one had always understood it to be by Siloti, and it appears thus in the Threlfall-Norris catalogue (Scolar Press: 1982). But on this LP, which plays for over an hour, there are more pieces than one has room to comment upon. Wagner's Albumblatt, for Princess Metternich, is scarcely typical, nor can the Erinnerung be, as it is the only piece by Bruckner that I have ever managed to enjoy. The stylistic variety is considerable, with Rossini receiving a witty performance, Gershwin sounding piquantly graceful, Reger drowsily charming. And Blithe bells is a splendid piece of `Bach gone wrong'. This excellently recorded LP is wholly recommended.
-- Gramophone [10/1984] reviewing the original LP release Read less
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