The vast majority of Brazilian-born pianist Arnaldo Cohen's discography is devoted to the music of Franz Liszt. There is good reason for this; his technique and approach to the instrument seem especially suited for the demands Liszt makes of pianists, from extreme subtlety and introspection to the bravura, ostentatious displays of power and virtuosity. Cohen delivers all of this with remarkable clarity. This album, propitiously recorded in SACD surround sound, features the works for piano and orchestra. It opens with the demonic and fiendish Totentanz. Cohen's ample technique clearly shines through in this sparsely orchestrated work; he plays with immeasurable force and power while never appearing to bang. Every note is always clearly audible, no matter the speed or density of texture. Cohen's playing in the concertos is equally captivating, and he switches seamlessly between dazzling pyrotechnics in the fast movements to warm, lush sentimentality in the slower, inner movements. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, while clearly a talented ensemble, seems a bit dull and sluggish compared to Cohen, however. Articulations are not quite as precise or energetic, leading to an apparent mismatch between soloist and orchestra. Even this is not sufficient to mar these performances, though, and listeners seeking to hear Liszt at his best should absolutely consider this album.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Totentanz, for piano & orchestra, S. 126 (LW H8)|
|Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S. 124 (LW H4)|
|Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, S. 125 (LW H6)|