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Volodos in Vienna

“You can keep your Lang Langs, your Yuja Wangs, your Evgeny Kissins… I’d swap their collective virtuosity for one evening of Arcadi Volodos’s consummate pianism. To my mind, he has produced nothing finer on disc than this live recital, captured in Vienna last spring.” — Gramophone Magazine

Volodos in Vienna is a recital album by Arcadi Volodos recorded live at the Musikverein in Vienna. Gramophone Magazine rated this performance in its CD version as the best instrumental recording of 2010.

The first half of the recital consists of six pieces by Scriabin and Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales. The second half starts with Schumann’s Waldszenen followed by Liszt’s “Dante Sonata” which we hear Volodos perform here:

Liszt – from Années de pèlerinage, Second Year: Italy

No. 7, Après Une Lecture De Dante

Encores

Vivaldi/Bach: Concerto In D Minor, BWV 596 – Sicilienne
Tchaikovsky: Children’s Songs, Op. 54/10 – Berceuse
Scriabin: Pieces For Piano, Op. 45/1 – Feuille D’Album


Reveiw in Gramophone Magazine


/patrick

  1. Tony Adzinikolov Says:

    How disheartening to hear such accolades and uncanny comparisons for performance that borders with (if it is not already) a butchery. One wonders if the “experts” at Gramophone have any clue as to what great performance is or maybe it is just a shameless propaganda-stunt for selling more copies of their new project? (but claiming that a pig wares emperor’s cloths does not make it so just because of the claim! pun not intended!)

    A more honest assessment would be: in live concert, undisputed virtuoso Volodos delivers loud and rough performance of Liszt’s monumental work about the soul’s after-life journey. The result was ineptitude and fell way shorter of the desired effect. The virtuoso is so accustomed to the success of his transcriptions of some popular classical pieces that he could not help himself but “re-work” the master piece with changing entire sections and ruining most of the subtleties and exchanging the true dramatic effects with loud fast and furious banging. The rendering itself was dirty (at times) and totally lacked the essence of other-worldliness. Perhaps it is a high standard to hold it against him that he could not reach the subtleties of the Beyond- but then why play it? Just keep track with the pop transcriptions!

    Liszt himself would have probably either committed suicide realizing that it’s really hopeless: on one side great ability, on the other, utter luck of sophistication, subtlety, sense of Mystery and Poetry- or would have stayed flabbergasted and paralyzed to the end of the performance not believing his ears and think really hard how to tackle with this prevalent phenomenon of the modern age: impressive packaging and depressing sense of spirituality- where the house is full of (fake) furniture built but there is no one in to greet you.

    There are pianists, like Kemal Gekic, Misha Dacic, who have rendered this work in its sublime form, with all its glory and transcendental beauty- but one would need to think outside of the commerce Machine to be able to approach it. Then- there is no wonder why classical music year after year looses more and more listeners and becomes an art form for old and rich pretenders.

    I certainly do not blame Volodos- except for trespassing in an area not fit for his abilities- but artists need to try and push and be allowed to make a mistake. I blame the critics for being superficial and for not knowing how to point us to the real gems- but are just like shiny dead posts- stirring traffic towards selling vendors.
    Truly disappointing state of affairs!

  2. Darry Bradbrook/ pianist Says:

    Poor old Tony, critics are a weird type, his claim to fame is to write a
    dialogue of tripe using all the long critical words in the english
    dictionary. He must have taken a long time to wright his comments.
    It should be noted that every pianist plays each piece differently to another. If it is a law that every piece be played exactly as it is on the
    sheet, then why have pianists. Just have a machine to record the exact
    notes and burn them on a disk.

    Truly disappointing state of critical affairs

  3. A Says:

    Would anybody tell me what does that the title of the Liszt’s piece mean? I can type only English alphabets and my language with my keyboard, so I can’t even try to search it in the Internet.

  4. J Says:

    After a lecture by Dante (the writer), based on his most famous work

  5. Phil Schoonmaker Says:

    “You can keep your Lang Langs, your Yuja Wangs, your Evgeny Kissins… I’d swap their collective virtuosity for one evening of Arcadi Volodos’s consummate pianism.” Sadly, this kind of commentary is at the very least off-putting and unprofessional and serves only to diminish Gramophone Magazine. Lumping the unique individual art of three great pianists together is stupid enough because, to paraphrase Renoir, all great art is both inimitable and ineffable, making it impossible and utterly ignorant to lump the art of individual artists together for the purposes of comparison. But to then compare their “collective virtuosity” (whatever that could possibly mean) to another artist’s individual artistry is beyond ignorance and enters the realm of boorish stupidity. At the very least, Gramophone Magazine is in desperate need of a new critic and an informed view of the nature of art. All great artists stand alone as worthy of our respect. Gramophone Magazine needs to pay closer attention to its Ps and Qs.

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