Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsodies,

[...] “Now there is Vincenzo Maltempo, in the possession of a phenomenal technique which he puts completely in service of the many facets of these works, which he plays with great interpretative insight and precision. He shows an instinctive sensibility for melodic colouring and spicy details. His almost improvisatory playing, with the right mixture of melancholy and sweep, at the least equals Cziffra, of not surpassing him.”

Liszt, Hugarian Rhapsodies,

“Maltempo is an immensely gifted artist who seems quite consistently to make the best of even the flawed works here, like #12.
Clearly Maltempo understands Liszt, feels at home in his works, and fully grasps his wide-ranging style of composition.”

“Maltempo, with his subtle touch, deft sense for tempo, and intelligent phrasing, makes the best case for works like #10, which can sound mostly like fluff.”

“Maltempo adjusts to the darker character of the last four Rhapsodies, not by changing his style, but through his dependably superior sense for interpretation, which always allows him to find the proper spirit of each piece.”


Robert Cummings on

Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody, Gramophone

[...] The 31-year-old Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo has already created a niche for himself with a series of Alkan recordings (on Piano Classics and Toccata Classics), not to mention a 2008 Liszt disc (Gramola) that includes, among other things, a Norma Fantasy of extraordinary breadth and nobility. In fact those two qualities also permeate these Hungarian Rhapsodies, which I don’t hesitate to call the finest I’ve heard.

One of the more striking aspects of Maltempo’s approach to these works is his inerrant sense of timing. There’s no rush to arrival: every scintillating detail is savoured at leisure, without a trace of decadent indulgence. Lyrical passages, so often sunk by the weight of misplaced rubato, here speak with an earnest ardour, lending them a disarming, youthful freshness. That said, tempos are amply pliant and rubato, when applied, is richly luxuriant. The rhythmic spine of the material always remains intact, so that rhetorical thrust is never lost to detail. Finally, Maltempo’s presto leggiero in fioritura passages is little short of perfection. [...]


Patrick Rucker

Husum Festival 2017

[...] In this thirty-first edition of this extraordinary one-week-Festival under the artistic direction of the pianist Peter Froundjian, there was another guest, for the second time since 2014, the Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo, in this case with a program of purely Slavic and late romanesque timbre.
In the Märchensonate of Dimitri Blagoy (1958) he showed from the first sound his pianistical resources: rich and delicate touch, excellent pedaling, definite repeated notes, glittering speed cascades, controlled crescendo to the fortissimo, with low, well-structured bass. Noteworthy is the faint-grinning interventions that Vincenzo Maltempo, almost with “insolently pointed fingers”, mixed with virtuosist musical action.
Along with the Sonata in E flat, which is loaded with the tragic pathos of the prematurely deceased Alexej Stanchinsky and the Victor Kosenko’s Sonata in C Sharp minor with strong Rachmaninovian reminiscences and his gravely exacerbated cosmic pain, there was the Second Sonata by Alexander Glazunov, who crossed the border Between Western and Slavic traditions.
Maltempo has dealt with the work in three movements with a keen intensity devoid of excessive heavyweights, building powerful crescendi up with breathtaking octave passages never-kicking and in the same way organic, and he understood the way of enchanting the keys with elegiac and crystalline tenderness.[...]


Kieler Nachrichten, 25.08.2017, Detlef Bielefeld

Maltempo’s Liszt Rhapsodies: Very Close to Ideal

Maltempo’s Liszt Rhapsodies: Very Close to Ideal – Classics Today

In an earlier review, I wrote how no Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody cycle on disc completely satisfied. I posited a hypothetical reference version that would fuse each modern-era cycle’s best qualities, such as Artur Pizzaro’s tone, George Cziffra’s imagination, Leslie Howard’s scholarship, Louis Kentner’s stylish authority, Roberto Szidon’s panache, plus the clean reproduction and solid musicianship characterizing Philips’ two cycles respectively featuring Michele Campanella and Mischa Dichter. I didn’t mention shellac and mono-era versions from Mark Hambourg, Alexander Borovsky, Alexander Brailowsky, Edith Farnadi, Samson François, nor Cziffra’s earlier traversal, but my point was clear. The young Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo, however, comes closer than anyone on disc to achieve an ideal Hungarian Rhapsody cycle.

His Lisztian instincts are as sound as his transcendent technique, and he never makes a musical mistake. For example, Maltempo captures and sustains the brooding, introspective qualities of No. 3, No. 5, and the introductions to Nos. 1, 7, 9, and 13 without losing shape or vibrancy. No. 6 is so elegantly sculpted and nuanced that Maltempo’s nervous energy in the infamous right hand repeated-note octaves catches you off guard in a good way. The pianist’s ebullient manipulation of tonal and textural light and shade keep the arguably overlong Nos. 9 and 14 rivetingly afloat.

While many pianists either bang through or make mud out of the No. 15 Rákóczi March’s low-register introduction, Maltempo actually lets you hear the notes as he carefully builds up to the theme’s first statement. No. 10’s rhetorical conceits and humorous glissandos may not match Arthur Rubinstein or Guiomar Novaes for infectious joie-de-vivre, yet Maltempo’s pinpointed control justifies his poker-faced demeanor. The short and strange Nos. 16, 17, and 18 come off splendidly, although I wouldn’t have minded had Maltempo monkeyed with No. 19’s text in the manner of Horowitz, Cziffra, or Janice Weber.

The pianist amends the famous Second Rhapsody with a convoluted cadenza of his own invention. The cadenza is effective, but I still prefer Marc-André Hamelin’s wittier, more harmonically adventurous and succinct concoction. But that’s a minor bone to pick. In addition to the excellent engineering, Maltempo has the advantage of an unusually resplendent Steinway D that responds to his every gesture. Highly recommended.