Notes and Editorial Reviews
Risto-Matti Marin (pn)
ALBA ABCD 270 (69: 27)
Piano Sonata d,
op. 31/2, “Tempest.”
Shadow over Innsmouth.
op. 10/12, “Revolutionary”
Risto-Matti Marin is a gifted pianist, imaginative, musical, with excellent technique, great reserves of energy, and an intuitive grasp of music from any era. He’s as convincing in Bach as in Miettinen or Britten, never mannered or artificial. His four CDs offer a wide range of repertoire, all beautifully performed. His special interest in transcription has led him to such forgotten scores as the Liszt/Stradal symphonic poems, of which my favorite is
, but there are numerous other transcriptions here, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern, that merit a listener’s attention; his manner in standard repertoire is just as accomplished. I can’t begin to cover everything in detail in a short review, but a few highlights include the
and the Liszt
thrilling versions in which dazzling speed and clarity generate visceral excitement even as the more poetic moments entice with lyrical suavity. Some other notable examples: the Czerny, crisp, sparkling and classically poised; the energetic and dramatic Beethoven (both the
Creatures of Prometheus
and the Fifth Symphony); the impetuous yet nuanced “Revolutionary” Etude; the dark, turbulent Britten/Stevenson
Peter Grimes Fantasy
; the Scriabinesque Miettinen, which is no less effective for its indebtedness to the famous Russian; Fagerlund’s kaleidoscopically colorful homage to Brahms; and the Whittal/Freeman
, with its cascades of prepared piano sound that unexpectedly burst upon the listener after the spare, minimal introduction.
As Marin mentioned in our conversation, piano transcriptions have sometimes been relegated to secondary status, but have made a triumphant return in recent years. (I’m of the opinion that transcriptions never really went away and that only critics, pedants, and “serious musicians” disparaged them.) In the old days, transcriptions gave pianists an opportunity to savor symphonic music in the privacy of their homes and helped spread familiarity with the otherwise often inaccessible orchestral repertoire. And in themselves, they could be tremendously appealing; consider how much pure pleasure would be lost if Rosenthal, Rachmaninoff, Cziffra, Godowsky, and Busoni (among many others) never indulged themselves in this “forbidden” pastime.
Perhaps the most famous historical example of the latent potential of the medium would be Liszt’s performance of his transcription of “The March to the Scaffold” from Berlioz’s
. Played after the orchestral version conducted by the composer, it made a greater impact than the original and aroused the audience to a frenzy of enthusiasm. And in our own day, let’s not forget Vladimir Horowitz’s astounding transcriptions
The Stars and Stripes Forever
Insofar as the CDs under review, while we can thank Risto-Matti Marin for reminding us of the diversity of available transcriptions, it’s his exemplary performances that will engrave the music upon the minds of his listeners. The recorded sound is very good and I am much taken with Risto-Matti’s piano, a responsive and well-voiced instrument that facilitates split-second transitions between tonal warmth and scintillating brilliance.
FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
Works on This Recording
Hamlet, S 104 by Franz Liszt
Risto-Matti Marin (Piano)
Written: 1858; Weimar, Germany
Be the first to review this title