Fazil Say

Fazil Say Plays Mozart

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Hailed extravagantly in Le Figaro as a genius, Fazil Say proves himself to be merely eccentric in these performances of Mozart's Piano Concertos K. 414, K. 467, and K. 488. While he receives tasteful and reasonably idiomatic support from Howard Griffiths and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Say pursues a seriously overblown approach in all three works, replete with seesawing dynamics, unexpected and inappropriate rubato, and demonstrative crescendos; taken together, these features are the antithesis of the refinement and restraint observed by the conductor and the orchestra. Worse still, Say steadily accompanies himself with atonal vocalizations -- à la Glenn Gould, but more like grunts; this noise is too loud and persistent to be ignored. Beyond that, his interpretations are whimsical, unbalanced, and at times even anachronistic -- he introduces Beethovenian pathos and Chopin-esque dreaminess in Mozart's slow movements, and even a little Lisztian showboating in the Allegros -- undoubtedly to give this CD some crass commercial appeal and notoriety in the press. Lastly, Say plays a modern Steinway grand, which he milks for all its volume and varied timbres, and he rides fairly heavily on the pedal. So if Say's idiosyncratic performances amount to genius, then that term has become utterly meaningless hype.

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