Behzod Abduraimov

Prokofiev: Sonata No. 6; Liszt; Saint-Saëns

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Fans of piano music may already know what to expect of this 2012 CD from Decca because pianist Behzod Abduraimov's brilliant reputation precedes him. The winner of the 2009 London International Piano Competition and a virtuoso who has been compared frequently to Vladimir Horowitz, Abduraimov has achieved international stardom in his early twenties and is rapidly becoming a household name. A quick look at the track listing should give the listener a clear idea of the sinister theme of this album, too, for Saint-Saëns' Danse macabre, Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6 and the "Suggestion diabolique," and Liszt's Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude and the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 combine to make a fiendish -- and fiendishly difficult -- program. Abduraimov is quite sympathetic to the dark side of Romantic piano literature, and his uncanny abilities put him in a long line of virtuosos who, following Liszt's lead, have flirted with the supernatural in music. While the music may not actually be scary in its subject matter, Abduraimov's abilities are more than a little startling, and his speed, accuracy, and showmanship often make him seem like a man possessed. Seekers of subtlety and delicacy should be warned that this album offers little of that, yet to Abduraimov's credit, there is considerable refinement and clarity in his playing, so there is more to appreciate here than just prestidigitation.

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