Dedication - Tsintsabadze
Ars Produktion ARS 38 358
Classical - Instrumental
Works by Schumann, Brahms, Liszt
Shorena Tsintsabadze (piano)
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 26, 2023
I sometimes wonder to what extent a cover should be part of a review. I take it that the cover is designed to incite people to buy a product. But the flag should not be of any concern to an objective view of the load. In this particular case, however, the impression of ‘tristesse’ emanating from the static posture of an eminent pianist in a national dress (?) seems not to have been inspired to improve sales, but rather to honour “.. my beloved father” as we can read on the back side of the cover. However, despite Shorena Tsintsabadze having selected works that fit such a sad and psychologically profound mood wonderfully well, her playing is not triste, but compassionately powerful.
A while ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Klavier Romantik - Tsintsabadze when Shorena stood on the romantic side of the road. Both Schumann (with a brilliant account of his Symphonic Etudes) and Brahms (with 3 poetically played Intermezzi, Op. 117) were there, too, whilst she ably showed her natural talent for Chopin. She kept to Schumann and Brahms in this second release but traded Chopin in for Franz Liszt.
To give expression to her sorrow, Tsintsabadze clearly did not make it easy on herself. Schumann’s Fantasy Op. 17, dedicated to Liszt, is on every pianist’s prime list and many excellent recordings are readily available. The same applies to Brahms’s Intermezzo Op. 118, No. 2, dedicated to Clara Schumann, whereas Liszt’s B minor Sonata, dedicated to Robert Schumann, is one of the most difficult to perform by any of the best. Her credentials are nonetheless of a level that should enable her to measure up to most. Time to put things to the test.
While Shorena, in a powerful field of other female pianists like Einav Yarden (Challenge Classics) and Danae Dörken (ARS Produktion), does not quite match Dörken in conveying the passion of a young man for a woman he was denied by her father, she nonetheless delivers a remarkable reading that is at par with Einav’s. Moreover, in Brahms she lets the listener share in the melancholy expressed in his second intermezzo with a flawless interpretation of a composer pondering over the fleeting passing of life. Not as sentimental as Dejan Lazic (Channel Classics) and not as overly hesitant as Plowright (BIS), though differences remain subject to personal appreciation. I, for one, appreciate the way Shorana Tsintsabadze projects Brahms’s melancholy in a contemplative and resigned manner.
The main challenge lies, of course, in Liszt’s B minor Sonata. If you haven’t recorded it, you do not count? Looking at the list of contenders, it would seem to me that such is the case. All the big names fighting for a top position, overshadowing lesser-known talents that are just as good or even better. Like, for instance, Markus Groh (Avie Records). And I must confess that comparing the various readings is also as difficult as it is for pianists to perform.
The psyche of this sonata cannot be captured by bravura; it is rather the fruit of understanding the complexities in the relationship between Faust and Mephistopheles and a whole lot more, as so aptly explained in Tsintsabadze’s notes. And that is why I believe that there is no single way to play this sonata. It is a monument that can be looked at from different angles and hence be read from different points of view. Tsintsabadze has hers’ and I find much to admire in what she does. Maybe not everyone’s top of the list, but in any case, with much well-considered personality.
The piano sound is warm, deep and room-filling. Those with one or even two sub-woofers may consider cutting out the lowest frequencies as I noticed some ‘low noise’ in my system when playing -as I prefer for obtaining a realistic concert reproduction- at a high-volume level.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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