Gramophone - August 2005 - Written by Bryce Morrison

Fiery Liszt from Rose

Liszt
Piano Sonata in B minor. Reminiscences
de Don Juan. Mephisto Waltz No 1,
'Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke'
Jerome Rose pf
Medici Classics ® M30092 (58’ • DDD)

Plenty of dazzling moments, as befits a virtuoso, but fine musical sense, too. Jerome Rose, who won first prize in the 1961 Busoni International Piano Competition (a competition notorious for not offering first prizes), has returned with a vengeance, recording many of the greatest masterpieces of the repertoire. His most recent offering is of three intimidating examples of the virtuoso repertoire and it is greatly to his credit that, although passionate and sincere, he is less inclined to leave his personal stamp on the music than to share his sense of Liszt's quality.

Rose hardly recreates the Sonata in its first audacity (it was considered incomprehensible and unplayable until Horowitz took it so formidably in hand) but sees it in a lucid, modern perspective, never labouring his points but balancing sense and sensibility with enviably clarity and assurance. In the Don Juan Fantasy he may be less athletic or sure-fingered than, say, Earl Wild or Bolet, but his playing could hardly be more clear­sighted. There are dazzling moments (the velocissimo plunge just before the final blaze) but overall you end feeling refreshed and elated rather than exhausted or temporarily impressed by a more forced
or hectic approach.

Oddly, Rose refers in his notes to Liszt's 'many Mephisto Waltzes' (there are four, and the fourth is incomplete) but if he holds the first Waltz's diabolic frisson at arm's length his performance is never less than dextrous and musicianly. Medici Classics' sound is warm and natural and this is very much a record for those who continue to regard Liszt as possessing 'too much of the tinsel and the drum' (Clara Schumann).


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