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CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Review of Andreas Klein Piano Recital on Eroica

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 30 May 2005 23:57:00 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (76 lines)

"Dancing Through Time - Bach to Gershwin"
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
French Suite No. 5 in G major [16:43]
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Papillons, Op. 2 [14:22]
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53 [6:30]
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 in D flat [6:35]
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Ritual Fire Dance [3:04]
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
3 Danzas Argentinas [7:31]
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Tango [2:24]
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Three Preludes [6:14]
Walter Gieseking (1885-1956)
Three Dance Improvisations [6:59]

Andreas Klein, piano
Recorded Stude Concert Hall, Houston, Texas, August 1997
Eroica JTD3138 [70:22]

I tend to have mixed feelings about 'theme' discs in that they often
succeed in conveying the full spirit of the theme without offering any
individual performances that are distinctive or compelling.  Such is the
case with this Andreas Klein recording that gives us a snapshot of 300
years of music possessing dance rhythms.  Perhaps the cover photograph
of a barefoot Klein smiling at us and dressed in preppy clothing offers
a good hint of the performances.  They are on the benign side and rather
optimistic as if Klein is saying to us, "Let's dance and have fun".

On the other hand, I don't want to give the impression that Klein is
an inconsequential pianist.  A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music,
he has studied with Claudio Arrau and Nikita Magaloff.  Klein's soloist
career has included recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, the Berlin
Philharmonic Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center in
Washington DC.  On the preset disc he is technically adept, rhythmically
alert to the various dance patterns, and always has a keen sense of the
sweep of the music.  In Bach's Suite in G major, Klein gives a beautiful
performance of the Allemande, his Courante is a lively affair, and the
Sarabande is quite poignant.  He fully conveys the impetuous changes in
the dance rhythms of Schumann's Papillons, the melancholy state of the
middle section of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 is thoroughly explored,
and Gershwin 2nd Prelude is as sultry as they come.

Unfortunately, failings are more noticeable and prevalent.  Bach's Gigue,
the final movement of the G minor Suite, has absolutely no menace to it,
intensity is lacking in Papillons, and Chopin's Polonaise in A flat major
is played more as a salon piece than for its heroic representation.  The
swagger, gusto, and fire of the Liszt Rhapsody is undervalued, and Klein's
interpretation of de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance is a tame creature.  A
sharper picture of Stravinsky's syncopated rhythms would be appreciated,
and Gershwin's 1st and 3rd Preludes are not as jazzy as I would like.

I certainly can't find any fault with the program.  It offers a fine
mix of dance styles, and the works by Bach, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, De
Falla, Ginastera and Gershwin are wonderful creations.  I am particularly
taken by the Ginastera dances; the 1st and 3rd dances have compelling
rapid-fire and motored rhythms, while the 3rd is rapturous music depicting
the dance of a beautiful maiden.  Given the serious-minded reputation
of the legendary pianist Walter Gieseking, his Three Dance Improvisations
are surprising for their light and happy moods with the Foxtrot and
Charleston anchoring the set.  Klein is at his best in these carefree
Gieseking pieces.

As an aside, I asked my wife Ellen Jane to give the disc a listen and
she found it a pleasant and upbeat listening experience that I tend to
agree with.  If you want more than 'pleasant', Klein's disc is not for
you.  However, it should be ample to enhance a enjoyable evening and
even dance to a few of the pieces.  Sonics are excellent, although higher
notes occasionally have a glassy sound.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

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