This is the hardest kind of CD to review, because
I have no strong feelings about it one way or the other. A lot of this
is Liszt’s flashiest, most virtuosic stuff, but low on nutrition: galops
and dances, a Capriccio on themes from Beethoven’s The Ruins of
, four Hungarian Rhapsodies. Vanessa Benelli Mosell uses
these chances to really show off her technical prowess, getting through
an hour of nearly impossible music without breaking a sweat. It’s all
well-engineered, too, except the Capriccio, where the loudest chords
caused my headphones to crackle.
So why am I underwhelmed? It could be that this breed of music is just not for me. It could be that the recital feels a little soulless: compounding the showy but shallow music are performances that don’t really have a strong personal stamp. Thus even the Liebestraum
in A flat is pretty but curiously unpoetic. The Rossini dance clatters along with little dynamic contrast between mezzo-forte
and anything else.
Most of this music I suspect I’d like better if they were played more imaginatively and less “straight”. The Hungarian Rhapsodies I know I like better in the hands of Cziffra or Jando - the best recording Jando ever made. Nevertheless, they’re competent and entertaining. This whole disc is competent, entertaining and underwhelming. I wish I’d liked it more. Then this would have been easier to write.
Byzantion was rather more taken by this album