Magazine article Gramophone

The French Maverick Live at the 1972 Salzburg Festival

Magazine article Gramophone

The French Maverick Live at the 1972 Salzburg Festival

Article excerpt

Alexis Weissenberg

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition Ravel Le tombeau de Couperin Schumann Fantasie, Op 17 Chopin Nocturne No 20, Op posth Liszt Valse impromptu, S213 Brahms Rhapsody, Op 79 No 2 Moszkowski Etude in F Bach Jesus bleibet meine Freude Alexis Weissenberg pf Orfeo d'Or (B) (2) C869 122B (102' * ADD) Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, 1972

Here, on a two-CD recital taken live from the Salzburg Festival, is Alexis Weissenberg in all his alternating brilliance and perversity. His declaration that music-making should be contemporary, sweeping away the cobwebs of tradition, is reflected in performances of a bewildering inconsistency, a mix of the hard-bitten and interior. The Fugue from Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin is rushed and insensitive, its archaic charm erased, and you can almost hear the composer's stern admonition in the Rigaudon: 'It is sufficient to play my music, not to interpret it.'

The Schumann Fantasie, too, keeps you on the qui vive for the wrong reasons. After a bold and ringing start it becomes convulsive and rackety, degenerating in the central march into a garrulous uproar. Weissenberg's gaunt and percussive sound characterises much of his Mussorgsky and, if the performance is mechanically remarkable, it is technically limited, with a less than acute ear for harmony, texture and rhythm, for colour, light and shade.

In his generous selection of encores, Chopin's posthumous C sharp minor Nocturne is given with greater responsiveness, even when ornaments are snapped out. …

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