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Reviews: Albéniz: Iberia Vol. 2 - Yoram Ish-Hurwitz

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Site review by Geohominid October 13, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:    
Volume One of Yoram Ish-Hurwitz's Iberia (Albéniz: Iberia Vol. 1 - Yoram Ish-Hurwitz) was an unqualified success, both musically and sonically. Volume 2, with Books 3 and 4 (three pieces in each book) completes Albéniz' dazzling kaleidoscopic survey of the life and folk music of his country of birth, as seen from Paris of the early 1900's. These impressionistic tone poems for solo piano are one of the pinnacles of music written for the instrument, and are some of the most difficult works of all to play. Only a few pianists in a generation are able to fully give 'Iberia' its due; it requires staggering technical ability, great strength of hands and wrist, unflagging stamina and an intimate knowledge of the vibrant musical culture of Spain. Yoram Ish-Hurwitz is one such pianist, and together with Hamelin and Alicia de Larrocha has proved his mastery of the idiom.

Ish-Hurwitz's playing is effortless but refined, even when riding the crests of bravura fffff climaxes; he has a constant sense of dance and a warm, seductive singing tone for the many fabulous melodies, from languid to fiery. There is an infectious joy of spontaneous discovery as the music flows from him, as if he had never spent hours practising and struggling with the notational and harmonic difficulties laid before him in the score - which is often on three staves.

Turtle once again have produced an immaculate recording, originated in DXD at the famous Galaxy studios at Mol, Belgium; this should be a benchmark for capturing the sound of a superbly prepared Steinway D piano. Even the grey-scale digipak art provides atmosphere for the music, its collages of fin de siécle Spanish dancers and seedy look of the booklet are most evocative. The booklet contains a Q and A session with Ish-Hurwitz and Prof. Dr. Jacinto Torres, the leading Albeniz scholar, which reveals many insights, including the fact that Albeniz thought of destroying Lavapiés from Book 3 as he thought it unplayable.

A must-have recommendation for all lovers of piano music, which will astonish and beguile the listener for many years.

Copyright © 2009 John Miller and

Review by jeff3948 April 5, 2010 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Yoram Ish-Hurwitz's strength is his subtlety of phrasing which shows his love for Albeniz's music. According to his website, Yoram Ish-Hurwitz spent time in Spain studying and preparing this work and it shows in the results because the performance comes across in an effortless and convincing way. I don't know if it's fair to compare this young artist with the great Alicia De Larrocha's 3rd recording (Decca 1987) of this work found here: Iberia / Navarra / Suite Espanola, but it does seem fitting to do so. I found that Ms. De Larrocha's accents are a little crisper as well has her contrasts of emotions deeper and playing a little more flamboyant and intense. This is shown in the final piece of Book 4, "Eritana". One gets the impression that this music is in Ms. De Larrocha's blood whereas Mr. Ish-Hurwitz sounds like a foreigner that has mastered the language but does not quit have the accent down yet, or perhaps he simply takes a slightly more relaxed view point. Ms. De Larrocha's lived with this music much longer before she recorded it her 3rd time than Mr. Ish-Hurwitz has in his first, so she does have an advantage. But that is not to say that Mr. Ish-Hurwitz's is not enjoyable. He is very enjoyable too and has done exceedingly well. Also, his recording has the advantage of being a sumptuous multi-channel SACD which was a joy to my ears. A minor drawback to the recording is a lack of ambiance (reverberation) that a good concert hall would give to a recording. Also, this studio recording gives it a somewhat narrower dynamic range compared to Ms. De Larrocha's recording, however, it could be caused by their difference in playing. (FYI - Ms. De Larrocha's recording was made by John Dunkerley in the Concert Hall, University Music Hall, Cambridge). It would be interesting to compare Herve Billaut new SACD with Mr.Ish-Hurwitz and Mr. De Larrocha. Overall, this is a very beautiful and satisfying SACD. I highly recommend it.

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