Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Falla,Granados, Ginastera, Chopin & Liszt

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin & Liszt,Falla,Ginastera,Granados,Rachmaninov,Scriabin
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Gabriela Montero
WORKS: Recital & Improvisations
PERFORMER: Gabriela Montero (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 558 0392
Readers were first alerted to

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Gabriela Montero’s prodigious

talent via EMI’s ‘Live from the

Lugano Festival 2003’ set (reviewed

October 2004). At 35 she is already

a seasoned performer who can

count the likes of Argerich, Béroff

and Vásáry among her most ardent

fans. On the evidence of this live

recording captured in a single

evening last September, it beggars

belief that this is her first solo album.

Montero is no shrinking violet

– after experiencing her impassioned

assault on Rachmaninov’s E

minor Moment musical, few

could be left in any doubt that the

piano mechanism is activated by

hammers, Yet what is constantly

brought to mind throughout this

dazzling recital is Joseph Hoffman’s

assessment of Rachmaninov’s own

playing: ‘He had fingers of steel,

but a heart of gold.’ No matter how

jaw-dropping her miraculously

clean-fingered negotiation of such

as Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz, it’s what

happens between the notes, the

way she grippingly characterises

everything she plays, that constantly

arrests the listener’s attention. Not

since George Cziffra’s hey-day have

such white-hot, volcanic eruptions

of pianistic derring-do been

captured on disc.

Yet whereas Cziffra could

sound like a caged animal in music

that ideally called for a relaxed,

meditative response, Montero also

magics her phrasing poetically, as

witness Chopin’s heavenly D flat

Nocturne. But what sets the seal

on this remarkable release is the

bonus disc of Montero’s self-penned

improvisations, whose jazz-styled

inflections will have all die-hard

romantics misting over on contact.

Her spine-tingling rethink of

Rachmaninov’s Vocalise is worth the

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price of the disc alone. Julian Haylock