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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn/Franck/Liszt
WORKS: Prelude and Fugue in E minor; Prélude, choral et fugue; Réminiscences de Norma
PERFORMER: Jorge Bolet (piano)
The Cuban-born American pianist Jorge Bolet died in 1990 when he was 75. This disc was recorded at a recital he gave in Alabama in 1988. Bolet was particularly known for playing Liszt – he recorded the soundtrack for the film Song Without End, in which Dirk Bogarde played the amorous maestro. Yet Bolet was far from a flashy pianist and he showed a sober sense of architecture and a seriousness which was almost austere, no matter how extravagantly Romantic was the music he played. In his hands, Liszt’s grandiose medley from Norma becomes a noble battle with a tide of overwhelming emotion. Yet Bolet’s phrasing is relaxed enough to make the Franck triptych more salonish than churchy. It would sound more opulent if the recording were not so thin and shallow. Franck intended his work to be in the spirit of Bach, but Mendelssohn’s Prelude and Fugue succeeds better in this aim – though by comparison with Bach, it seems weakly well-mannered. Adrian Jack