P1410. LOUIS KENTNER: Liszt & Chopin Recital. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1158, Live Performance, 25 Dec., 1979. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Aged around 74 at the time of this performance, Kentner plays with impressive strength and cohesiveness, with only a few signs of aging in some of the more taxing passages (and no signs whatsoever in many of them!). Particularly noteworthy is his wonderful full-bodied sonority at all dynamic levels, with sensitive phrasing not only at softer volumes: there is an oratorial quality to his phrasing, with shaping that mimics that of human speech. His pacing is impeccable (what masterful timing between phrases), chords are perfectly weighted, and the balance between primary and secondary voices is wonderfully accomplished.
Kentner's unobtrusive and unostentatious style likely made him less of a superstar than some of his colleagues, but his pianism was always absolutely top-tier, a magnificent fusion of technical prowess and deep musical intelligence.
Many of Louis Kentner's early recordings have remained among my most treasured musical possessions....a luxuriant stylist who could touch off much of his vast repertoire with dazzling musical and technical aplomb....you will surely rejoice in a souvenir of true musical glory.”
- Bryce Morrison, GRAMOPHONE, Nov., 2007
“Although Kentner gave a Chopin recital at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest when he was eleven, his public debut was given at the age of thirteen, in Budapest. At fifteen he toured Hungary and Austria and at seventeen made his debut in Berlin where he had gone to live. In 1928 Kentner gave a recital in London’s Grotrian Hall, where he played Liszt’s Piano Sonata in b minor in a programme of Liszt and Chopin. He was described as ‘a finely equipped young pianist from Budapest ‘whose Liszt Sonata ‘…reached a very high level of technical display’. His forte passages were described as ‘richly sonorous’, a hallmark of Kentner’s unique tone quality. He gave an all-Liszt recital in London on 8 October 1936 commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death. Kentner began to gain a reputation as a Liszt player and recorded some of his lesser-known works for Columbia. After a series of Mozart concerto performances with Thomas Beecham and the London Philharmonic Orchestra Kentner continued his career in Britain, performing large cycles of works including the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert, and Bach’s wohltemperierte Klavier.
It was not until Kentner was fifty-one that he made his debut in America. A successful Town Hall recital in New York in November 1956 was followed by a tour. In May 1957 he played Brahms’ Piano Concerto #2 in B flat Op. 83 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Dimitri Mitropoulos in Carnegie Hall. In 1960, Kentner played the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in New York in seven recitals, but after this he played in America only once again, in 1979.
Never a pianist of virtuoso display, Kentner used his talents strictly for musical ends. Although identified particularly with the music of Chopin and Liszt, he always completely absorbed himself in a work when studying it, often delivering an interpretation that could sound introverted, particularly in his later years.”
- Jonathan Summers, Naxos’ A–Z of Pianists