P1214. FRANCISCO AYBAR: Mozart, Chopin, Albéniz, Schumann (the latter's Toccata in C) & Prokofiev (the latter's Sonata #7, Op.83) [An altogether magnificent recital, recorded on an Uher recorder with Sennheiser mike from a choice location in the Hall, far from audience members, virtually unmarred by audience noise, in glorious sound; the Schumann Toccata & Prokofiev Sonata are absolutely remarkable bravura performances.] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-321, Live Performance, 11 Nov., 1971, Alice Tully Hall, New York. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“If previous judgments of Francisco Aybar’s recitals here are correct, then his performances in Tully Hall Thursday night indicate artistic growth. The pianist has always been praised for his technique, and he can still stir up a lot of excitement in the finale of Prokofiev’s Sonata #7, as he did this time. But time after time, he showed that he...knows how to build a movement and sustain its structure in the most musical fashion. Despite his virtuoso powers, it could be said that at heart he is a poet and a lyricist….beautifully atmospheric, with ravishing quiet passages.”
- Raymond Ericson, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Nov., 1971
“You don't have to be Alicia de Larrocha to play Spanish piano music....The great lady retired a few years ago, and this repertoire has been seldom heard in our concert halls since. Mme. de Larrocha - as this señora has always been known, for some reason - put Spanish piano music on the map.
No one should have to be compared with Mme. de Larrocha, and I have no intention of comparing Francisco Aybar with her. Mr. Aybar was born in the Dominican Republic, and grew up in New York….But who, really, among major pianists, plays the Spanish repertoire today? Daniel Barenboim - Argentinean-born - now and then. But precious few others, if any….And, it should go without saying, you don't have to be Spanish, or Hispanic, to play this music. Arthur Rubinstein loved it, and excelled in it (as he did in everything - he was a musician). Readers have heard me say it before: The neglect of the Spanish piano repertoire is one of the mysteries and absurdities of our current concert life. This music should be mainstream, not fringe.”
- Jay Nordlinger, NEW YORK SUN, 15 June, 2006
“The Schumann Toccata, is the only of Schumann's original compositions that was inspired by considerations of technical difficulty. Unlike his contemporaries, Chopin, Liszt, von Henselt and many others, he did not write studies for the piano, though he early fell under the spell of Paganini and transcribed for piano several of the latter's violin caprices. Whether this was because of the injury he sustained while trying to strengthen the fourth finger of his right hand that ended his ambition of becoming a concert pianist, or whether it was the result of his nature as a ‘pure’ musician and thus immune from the virtuosic tendencies of the time, is impossible to say.
When the work was completed in 1836, Schumann believed it was the ‘hardest piece ever written’. It may well have been at the time as the final version of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes was not completed until 16 years later. Do not be deceived by the lack of apparent bravura of what you hear. The opening passages are right hand breakers, the streches are uncomforable and relentless, and unless you have tried playing this piece, you can't imagine the pain. I secretly believe playing this piece is really what done him in.”