Jura Margulis

Jura Margulis Live on the Horowitz Steinway

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Before even playing this disc, one cannot help but notice the somewhat peculiar and lopsided content of the liner notes. For starters, the cover makes clear that one of the features of the album is that it is performed on the Horowitz Steinway piano. Yet the notes make barely a paragraph of reference to the legendary instrument, its unique preparation, or Horowitz's relationship with it. Secondly, despite the fact that the CD contains works by Schubert, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Moszkowski, the notes are exclusively devoted to the Liszt sonata.

Pianist Jura Margulis' performance is generally satisfactory, but lacks some of the passion and spontaneity characteristic of the instrument's previous owner. The lower registers sound dull and muddy in louder passages. The Liszt sonata in particular comes across as safe at times and does not have the more aggressive edge that make recordings by the likes of Ivo Pogorelich more convincing. Fast passages are frequently blurred with overuse of the damper pedal. Other works on the album, especially the two Rachmaninov preludes are more successful. Margulis' phrasing and inner voice work are quite sensitive here. The accelerando concluding the G minor prelude is well controlled and makes for an exciting ending. Listeners who have a particular interest in Horowitz's instrument itself may find this recording fulfilling, but archetypal recordings of the individual pieces may best be found elsewhere.

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