Volume Six of Antonio Pompa-Baldi's endeavor to record Grieg's complete works for piano offers listeners already familiar with earlier installments more of what they are accustomed to. Pompa-Baldi's playing excels in the areas of articulation, cleanliness, and rhythmic panache. The 23 Short Pieces for Piano also give Pompa-Baldi the opportunity to show off his ability to shine in character pieces, quickly changing mood and atmosphere in these little gems, many of which are less than a minute long. The charm and grace heard in this set of short pieces make Volume Six an enjoyable and worthwhile purchase, but there are some problems with the album. The somewhat conjectural liner notes, written by Pompa-Baldi, are not nearly as lucid as his performance at the piano. Centaur's recorded sound of the solo piano continues to be bright and thin, which may be a turn-off to some listeners. Finally, cellist Francesco Mastromatteo's performance of the Op. 36 Cello Sonata, which Pablo Casals claimed to be his favorite work, is not in the same league with Pompa-Baldi's. Mastromatteo frequently rushes the very solid and steady tempo set up by Pompa-Baldi; intonation is frequently problematic and sound quality is inconsistent at best. Pompa-Baldi's playing, as in the 23 Short Pieces, simply can't be beat, though. His playing of the almost concerto-like accompaniment part is controlled, refined, and noble. Listeners will need to look elsewhere for an equally masterful performance of the cello part.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Small Pieces (23) for piano, EG 104|
Ola Glomstulens Brudeferd (Ole Glomstulen's Bridal Procession), Norwegian melody for piano No. 55, EG 108/55
|Sonata for cello & piano in A minor, Op. 36|