Thalberg goes to the Opera with Mark Viner

Remarkable new recording from Mark Viner. Reading the record sleeve that this remarkable young artist was trained in England says something for the enormous change in musical education in the UK . Once one always looked to the USA or the Eastern countries for serious early training but thanks to the Purcell School and similar places – Menuhin,Cheethams etc the magnificent results are now coming to fruition. I well remember the apparition of Raymond Lewenthal all those years ago with his remarkable series of Liszt/Alkan recitals that had a vast public queuing all night for return tickets at the Wigmore Hall. A public that had only read in history books about all the remarkable pianists of which Liszt of course was the figurehead. As on the apparition of Sigismond Thalberg in Paris and the famous duel between he and Liszt in the salon of the Princess Belgiojoso. “Thalberg is the first pianist in the world ;……..Liszt is unique”
But it is only now that we have a young british born virtuoso to guide us through this fascinating repertoire and make it relive again. Not only virtuoso performances but also scholarly information much along the lines that Graham Johnson has led us to expect with his wonderfully complete survey of Schubert Songs not only in numerous volumes but also even more numerous CD’s .Let us also not forget the marathon recordings of all Liszt’s works by Leslie Howard awarded a well deserved Guinness!
But what a revelation these Opera Fantasies are .
As Mark says,in his all too short but fascinating sleeve notes, the revolutionary way of splitting the melodic line between the hands whilst all sorts of amazingly intricate jiggery- pokery is going on all around.Indeed as he says it makes one almost believe that there are many more hands on the keyboard .
Only recently in Horowitz have we marvelled at this pianistic trickery and funambulistic piano magic.
Beautiful sounds from this recording made in a Church in the Netherlands. Hope it was an unconsecrated church for here indeed is the devil in disguise.
Mark Viner does not have the astonishing ,unique, diabolic technique of Horowitz but what he does have is an astonishingly,intelligent,musicianly approach that does not miss anything of the ravishing beauty and sheer virtuosity needed to bring these neglected scores to life.
It is indeed thanks to his early training from Tessa Nicholson and followed by one of Cyril Smiths star students, at the Royal College , Neil Immelman that we now have a complete ,intelligent advocate . The devils advocate you might say! It is very interesting that at the age of 59 Thalberg retired to cure his vineyard in Posilippo – Naples having been an immensely successful pianist- composer amassing a vast fortune in one of the most illustrious careers the world has ever seen.Only now perhaps rivaled by Lang Lang ! At only 25 I think we can and should expect much more from this astonishing young musician.

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