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MUSIC:
3CD ALBUM: 19TH CENTURY MASTERWORKS, Geoffrey Dorfman, piano
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3CD ALBUM: 
19TH CENTURY MASTERWORKS, Geoffrey Dorfman, piano    

     Disc 1: 
Humoreske, op. 20, Robert Schumann
Ballade in Fm, op. 52, Frederic Chopin
Polonaise Fantasie, op. 61, Frederic Chopin

     Disc 2:
Sonata op, 27, no. 2 (Moonlight,) Ludwig Van Beethoven
Sonata in Dm, op. 28 , Sergei Rachmaninoff
Etude Tableaux op. 39, no. 5, Sergei Rachmaninoff

     Disc 3:
Grosses Sonata in F#m, op. 11, Robert Schumann
'Ad Nos Ad Salutarem Undam,' Fantasie, Chorale and Fugue, Franz Liszt (Busoni Edition, EB 3863)
Encore: Fantasiestucke, op. 111, no. 2, Robert Schumann

 

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19Th Century Masterworks, Geoffrey Dorfman, Piano - Geoffrey Dorfman

19th-CENTURY MASTERWORKS • Geoffrey Dorfman (pn) • MILL HILL 1100 (3 CDs: 176:23) Live: New York 9/18/1992 1
SCHUMANN Humoresque. 1 Piano Sonata No. 1. 1 Fantasiestücke, op. 111: No. 2. CHOPIN Ballade No. 4. Polonaise-Fantasy. BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 14, “Moonlight.” RACHMANINOFF Piano Sonata No. 1. Etude-Tableau in e, op. 39/5. 1 LISZT-BUSONI Fantasy and Fugue on “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam”

... Certainly, by applying this modus operandi to Schumann’s Humoresque, the results are not only fascinating but wholly appropriate. Here, Dorfman’s playing with tempo and phrasing brings out the inherently quirky character of Schumann’s music, in which themes are sometimes abruptly juxtaposed rather than developed, and in fact imparts an even greater excitement to the individual pieces than one usually hears—again, because of the great structural clarity of his approach. Also, I cannot say enough about the way Dorfman plays the Chopin Ballade No. 4, bringing out the melancholy qualities of the music without suffocating the listener in pathos and bathos. Only someone who has lived with this music for some time, and who has thought long and hard about its qualities, plays it thus—quiet but not dreamy in the soft passages, suddenly exploding abruptly in the more dramatic ones, all the while maintaining a long view of the piece. By contrast, his interpretation of the Polonaise-Fantasy is upbeat, in some ways sounding like a triumph over adversity. A polonaise for our times, perhaps? Whatever the case, it is an absolutely bracing performance.

The live recital, recorded almost 20 years before the studio recordings on CDs 1 and 2, has much greater continuity and flow. Here, although it is apparent that Dorfman has put a great deal of thought into these works, he lets himself go with a headlong rush that is occasionally missing from the later recordings. These performances bristle with the excitement of someone who has just discovered fire. Dorfman is completely wrapped up in the Schumann sonata, although, to be fair, he seems less adept here at projecting a tender mood in the Aria . His interpretation of this sonata reminds me of William Kapell’s incendiary version of the Chopin Polonaise-Fantasie. In the Liszt Fantasy and Fugue, however, the Adagio is played with very tender expression, so this side of his interpretive nature is not altogether missing in the live set. Still, one cannot help but wonder if the difference in style is due to a maturation process or whether he tends toward a less complex interpretive mode when performing live.
This is, most certainly, a fascinating recital. Except for my quibbles regarding the Beethoven sonata, which are simply my own personal feelings, I can recommend this set wholeheartedly.  Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare Magazine; Issue 35:5, May/June 2012