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.

Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

For Vincenzo Maltempo there are few reservations regarding Alkan’s genius.

He admits that Alkan’s works, which range from the epic and monstruos to the miniatures provoke both hate and Iove, but goes on to refer to the Concerto for solo piano as one of the peaks of the piano literature of all time.

In the last in a series of Alkan recitals, his playing flashes with summer lightning and a freer, more expressiv romantic leeway than either Ronald Smith (who he praises en passant – EMI, l/70) and Marc-André Hamelin (who he oddly ignores Hyperion, A/07). His reflexes are nervy and rapid and he dispatches every outlandish difficulty with an astonishing ease and fleerness.

Alkan’s cruel demind for strict tempo is replaced by something more impulsive and his silvery-tone Yamaha allows him feats of virtuosity unknown to lesser mortals, intimidated by the composer’s hermetic world, that of a true misanthrope.

‘Comme Ie vent’, is reeled off like so much child’s play but in “En rythme molossique’, Maltempo’s measured tempo is totally in keeping with its pungent and insistent rhythm. Goethe may have believed that small is beautiful but for Akan the reverse is true (despite his miniatures) – and in some way sardonic curse suggested by Maltempo’s dazzling and idiosyncratic performances, finely recorded and presented by piano Classics.


Bryce Morrison, Gramophone *****

Robert Nemecek, Piano News

Alkan: Concerto for solo Piano, Piano Classics 2014

Since his debut two years ago with a monographic album devoted to Alkan for the label Piano Classic, the Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo is considered one of the greatest contemporary interpreters of this composer. And now with his third CD dedicated to Alkan fully confirms his reputation. With the ”Concerto for solo piano” Maltempo proposes one of the most amazing works of the entire piano literature, and it must be said that since the epic 1973 recording of John Hogdon, no other pianist as Maltempo has managed to dominate in a so well thought-out and orchestral way, its enormous difficulties. So much so that the first half hour of the first movement in any case is too long. In the three other Etudes Op. 39 Maltempo puts his phenomenal technique at the service of his poetic vision in a suggestive manner.

Robert Nemecek

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Alkan – Le Festin D’Esope, 3 Morceaux Op. 15, Ouverture, Sonatine

PianoClassics 2013

[...] Vincenzo Maltempo follows his superb accounts of Alkan’s Symphonie and Grande Sonate last year with another exceptional collection [...] that includes the ferociously challenging Sonatine, alongside the last two of the set of 12 Grandes Etudes Op 39, the Ouverture, and the wildly exuberant set of variations named after the story from Greek legend about the banquet that Aesop put on for his master. Maltempo delivers them both, as well as the extraordinary Sonatine, with the kind of larger-than-life swagger and unflinching technique they need, but it’s the Trois Morceaux dans le Genre Pathétique Op 15, which Maltempo’s own sleeve notes describe as the first significant product of Alkan’s maturity, that are even more remarkable. Whether in the sinister, whirling moto perpetuo of the second Le Vent, or the funeral march of the last, Morte, which uses the Dies Irae as a frame and builds to a ferocious climax, Maltempo makes every effect count. Thrillingly demonic.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5 stars

Luca Chierici, Classic Voice

Alkan: Concerto per piano Solo, Piano Classics

[…] Maltempo goes beyond the vision of Alkan as “hypervirtuoso”, limiting point of view of some pianists like Hamelin, but at the same time he has remarkable means to penetrate into the spirit of this fascinating music also underlined its technical side of gambling, which seems qualitatively complementary to that of the young Liszt. [...] Maltempo is absolutely at home in this universe in itself and he seems to represent today one of the very few performers who possesses the secret combination to unlock all the treasures of a production so engaging and not at all artificial.

Luca Chierici, Classic Voice, * * * * * (“CD of the month”) Sept. 2013

Pierre Massé, “Pianiste”

Alkan: Concerto per piano solo, Piano Classics

[…] The Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo has a superb lightness of touch, which adds a lyrical temperament that does not neglect neither funny magniloquence nor the accurate effects. He knows how to use his virtuosity to make us forget, even, some whim of writing; the pianist himself practices the art of transcription, and this can be understood from its colorful and orchestral sounds.

Pierre Massé, “Pianiste – Magazine” Sept. 2013-09-27

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