James Rhodes Live in Brighton

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach-Busoni,Chopin,etc,Grieg,Ludwig van Beethoven,Rachmaninov,Schumann
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: James Rhodes Live in Brighton
WORKS: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21; Bach-Busoni: Chaconne from Partita in D minor, BWV 1004; plus Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninov, etc
PERFORMER: James Rhodes


This must be the first piano recital disc to carry the message: ‘Caution – Explicit Language’. But what else do you expect from a live concert recording by James Rhodes? This bad boy of British classical music regularly indulges in demotic chatter, usefully given separate tracks in this memento of two recitals at Brighton’s Old Market. He’s at his best when the music is most abstract. In the Bach-Busoni Chaconne he grips the polyphony with a probing intensity, a manner revisited in miniature in the grave, brittle dance of the Marcello-Bach Adagio.

In more rebellious music, Rhodes’s reflexes sometimes wobble. During Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata, muddy articulation blunts rhythms and blurs textures. Elsewhere, Rachmaninov’s C sharp minor Prelude is convincingly shaped as a crescendo in anguish, while the Schumann-Liszt Widmung becomes rapture personified; but the Chopin-Balakirev Romanza is limp, while Grieg’s Mountain King tumbles out of control.


Geoff Brown