LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15   LISZT:  Variations on Mendelssohn's  "Wedding March".   SCRIABIN: Énigme, Op.52 No. 2. Caresse dansÈe, Op. 57 No. 2. Sonata No. 10, Op. 70.  PrÈlude, Op. 2 No. 2. RACHMANINOFF:  Fragments, Op. Posth.  Etude Tableaux, Op. 59 No. 8.  Etude Tableaux, Op. Posth. No. 5.  SCHUMANN:  Bunte Bl”tter, Op. 99.

SONY CLASSICAL  SK 60893 (F) (DDD)  TT:  71:52

Ever since Arcadi Volodos' initial CD (Sony Classical  62691, recorded late in 1996 when he was 24) collectors have wanted more from this remarkable young pianist and here, finally, it is. This is a recording of a Carnegie Hall concert recorded October 21,1998. It has been issued in England for months; why the delay in U. S. release is a mystery only Sony could explain—and they don't. Sony also should be credited for virtually unintelligible printing—miniscule white  on a black background. Is there anything more difficult to read? The U.S. issue has no booklet, just a single sheet with the CD cover and nothing on the other side.  At least the European issue had a booklet with comments by Harris Goldsmith.

Volodos is a remarkable pianist by any standards. He didn't start studying piano until he was 16, quite a late date in the pianistic world. But he learned fast as they say, and within a decade was recognized for his enormous virtuosity, astounding audiences with his incredible technical prowess. He is the technician supreme and as such has already created an audience that expects the near impossible—and gets it. I've heard tapes of his performance of Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 with Riccardo Chailly and the Concertgebouw, and Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 with the Bournemouth Symphony conducted by Jakov Kreisberg and with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, all from BBC Proms broadcasts. After the Bournemouth Rachmaninoff Three Volodos played as an encore his own transcription of Mozart's Turkish March, a performance even more spectacular than his Sony studio recording. I also saw Volodos perform Rachmaninoff Three with Chailly and the Concertgebouw in February 1998 when they toured the U. S. The playing lived up to high expectations. As an encore he played the Liszt-Horowitz arrangement of Mendelssohn's Wedding March which is also included on this new Sony CD.

Harris Goldsmith's glowing CD notes (in the European issue of the CD) review the Carnegie Hall concert comparing Volodos with Gabrilowitsch, Moiseiwitsch, Richter and other famous pianists of the past. The focal point of the concert was Schumann's Bunte Bl”tter in which Volodos shows he is capable of exquisite soft playing of great sensitivity. Scriabin's miniatures and big Sonata are splendidly played. But from a programming standpoint, this is an odd concert focusing on miniatures.  Within this concept, the concert is a stunning success. Only two encores are included; doubtless there were more that wouldn't fit on the CD. Volodos continues to build his reputation as the supreme technician. Recorded sound is natural, perhaps lacking a bit in brilliance.

Where does Volodos go from here? Would anyone particularly want to hear him in concertos of Mozart and Beethoven? I hope so; otherwise the strain of a super-virtuoso career could lead to the problems experienced by Vladimir Horowitz. It is said Volodos has recorded Rachmaninoff Three with James Levine and the Berlin Philharmonic; if it approaches the excitement of his live performances with Chailly or Kreisberg, it surely will be among the best in a highly competitive field.  See review.

R.E.B. (Nov. 1999)