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