P1342. JORGE BOLET: Chopin, Liszt, Liszt-Schubert & Schubert (incl. the latter's Wanderer Fantasy). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-838, Live Performance, 31 Jan., 1985, Paris. [Revel in one of the most beautiful piano recitals you are likely to encounter in quite a while] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Cuban pianist Jorge Bolet is an artist whose interpretive personality came out in live performances but tended to be hidden in the recording studio. In FANFARE 38:5 I reviewed an extraordinary set of 6 CDs on Ward Marston’s label titled ‘Ambassador from a Golden Age' in which I explored this issue in detail. The present recital from Paris in 1985 (venue unidentified) is one more telling demonstration of the magic Bolet created in the hall. The long length of this program is unusual. St. Laurent Studio has retained only minimal applause, so there is approximately 100 minutes of music, around 20 minutes more than the norm. Bolet shows no sign of tiring; if one can assume the Chopin pieces at the end of the second disc were encores, he chose the monumental Third Ballade as his final encore and played it flawlessly.
Perhaps the first thing you notice in the Liszt ‘Consolations' that open the recital is the gorgeously sculpted cantabile. Bolet’s playing is the pianistic equivalent of a fine bel canto singer. His tone remains shimmering at all dynamic levels, never turning hard even at fortissimo climaxes. His playing is flexible, marked by a sense of fantasy and imagination. His use of rubato is fairly liberal but always within the bounds of the structure of the music. Nothing that he does technically calls attention to itself. Liszt’s arrangements of Schubert songs benefit in particular from Bolet’s vocal approach, as you might expect.
Bolet was more than a poet, as welcome as that is. He could be a kinetic virtuoso, as capable of dazzling the listener as he was at seduction. He was skilled at finding the right shades to distinguish musical lines that ran simultaneously. Beyond principal melody and accompaniment, he was adept at voicing all of the lines in perfect proportion to each other. A vivid demonstration comes with the Schubert-Liszt ‘Das Wandern' from DIE SCHÖNE MULLERIN, where Bolet makes strikingly clear the effect of ever-present rippling water.
Overall, his playing is a rarely found combination of brilliance and delicacy, power and grace. For instance, in the ninth of Liszt’s TRANSCENDENTAL ÉTUDES, a work that gives Bolet a chance to show off his technique, he marries virtuosity to a sense of poetry and delicacy that is quite special. The Chopin f-minor Nocturne could serve as a master class in how to employ rubato generously without losing the structural shape of the music. The range of keyboard colors he finds in the two Chopin Études is unusually vivid.
In short, this recital combines just about everything one wishes to hear in a program of piano music from the heart of the Romantic era. One presumes that the recording is taken from a French FM stereo radio broadcast, and St. Laurent Studio’s piano sound is warm and natural. As usual with this label, there are no program notes, but you don’t really need them - just sit back and revel in one of the most beautiful piano recitals you are likely to encounter in quite a while."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
"Bolet was a master of color and texture and had a world-class technique, all still evident here at the end of his life. This abounds in colors and subtle voicings."
- James Harrington, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2011