[M]any of [the arrangements], I am happy to report, [are] by the totally irreverent and totally captivating Leopold Godowsky, best in my view of all the Germanic arrangers... the quality of the arranging is...marvellous, shot through with shafts of sunlight which the original music sometimes suggests only with difficulty. Godowski offers one original, the Elegie for left hand only: this should be in the repertoire of all pianists restricted by that particular limitation. Among the other virtuoso-type originals Moszkowski comes up well; and so does Paul de Schlözer. ''Paul de who?'', you have just said, just as I did. It turns out that he was a Russian pianist, teacher and composer living from 1841 to 1898, and that RachmaninovRead more regularly used this study for practice purposes...
– Gramophone [7/1987], reviewing the Godowsky, Moszkowski, and Schlözer recordings
The [Chopin Variations] takes the sombre C minor Prelude from Chopin's Op. 28 set for its theme, although this never undergoes any very drastic transformation. Nevertheless, in Bolet's sensitive hands the piece entirely retained my interest. I especially admired his ability here to endow the less impressive moments with seriousness and care. Bolet is adept at varying his touch and tone and so succeeds in distracting the listener from the etude-like aspects of several of the variations.
The selection of Preludes finds him very much on home ground. The way in which the hackneyed C sharp minor Prelude rises in majesty from the instrument, almost reminiscent of Debussy, allows one to hear it with new ears. The G minor Prelude, though rather austere and quite humourless in the main part, features that masterly delineation of lines in the middle section that was one of the hallmarks of the great pianists of the past.
– James Methuen-Campbell, Gramophone [8/1988], reviewing the Rachmaninov recordings
As applause and an occasional cough confirm, these are live concert performances, recorded in 1988 when Bolet was already 74. And never—on the admittedly all too few of his discs to have come my way—can I recall him playing with more personal warmth. This is at once apparent in Mendelssohn's E minor Prelude and Fugue, where without a moment's loss of contrapuntal clarity he responds with such immediacy to romantic undercurrents—and not least in the mounting urgency and might of the chorale-peaked Fugue. The final return of its searching, chromatically inflected E minor opening subject, in a tranquil E major, is benedictory.
His piano is a Baldwin, perhaps just a shade steely higher up (at least on my equipment), yet capable of rich, organ-like sonority (very faithfully reproduced) in the fuller climaxes of Franck's Prelude, Choral et Fugue. At times in later years I had thought him over-cautious in choice of tempo, but there is certainly no hint of that here. At its start, you might even think the fugue (marked Largamente) marginally too fast, though you very soon realize how much this tempo contributes to the urgency and continuity of his conception as a whole.
For the best of all you must wait to the end. Totally unstrained by Liszt's virtuoso demands, Bolet plays the Reminiscences de Norma not only with a truly orchestral range of dynamics and colour but also with quite exceptional intensity—always knowing so well how to 'guard' secrets until the great moments of revelation arrive. In short, I felt I'd been taken just as close to the heart of the matter as when hearing the opera itself, with Callas in the title role, in the age-old, open-air theatre of Epidaurus on a never-to-be-forgotten night in August 1960. All thanks to Bolet—and Liszt too.
– Joan Chissell, Gramophone [4/1994], reviewing the Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue, as well as the Franck and Liszt recordings Read less
A great pianist of romantic musicJanuary 17, 2014By Dr John U. (Palo Alto, CA)See All My Reviews"I first encountered Jorge Bolet by accident, when I stumbled onto a master class he conducted about 30 years ago and which was televised on the A&E network. I had arrived a day early for a talk I was scheduled to give at a medical meeting in Puerto Rico, on my way home from meetings in Europe. So I had a free day, and the high point of that free day was to watch this master class, which has just begun as I turned on the television in my hotel room. It was a splendid display of musicianship. I was fascinated to learn that he lived in Los Altos, CA, about 5 miles from my home in Palo Alto. I had struggled in the past with playing several Liszt masterworks from the Anne'es de Pelerinage - Italie, and came away from watching this master class with new insights about those compositions. Unfortunately he died a few years ago, but his romantic genius lives on his numerous recordings, of which this particular disk is a jewel."Report Abuse
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