Classical Music Replay: Robert Cowan makes his pick of the latest reissues

Louis Kentner: the pioneering Liszt recordings (Scherzo & March, Carnaval de Pesth, Hungarian Rhapsody, Benediction de Dieu dans las solitude etc) (Recorded: 1937-1941) (Appian APR 5514)
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The Independent Culture
Anyone who knows Louis Kentner's piano playing only from a handful of recorded collaborations with his brother-in-law Yehudi Menuhin should sample this CD. To hear Kentner tease and tear at Liszt's impish Scherzo und March, or storm the closing pages of Carnaval de Pesth is to witness what Constant Lambert once described as "remarkable intelligence and musical instinct".

Although the selection is labelled "pioneering", it opens with the much- hackneyed second Hungarian Rhapsody, a work that Kentner learnt just for these sessions. Annotator Bryan Crimp tells us that the first "masters" were damaged and that Kentner had to re-record the second 78rpm side - though the actual playing is anything but a dutiful re-visit.

More impressive still is Kentner's narrative rendition of Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude, luminous in every detail, even through a veil of 78rpm surface noise; or the thoughtful first Polonaise, where - to paraphrase Lambert - Kentner displays both brilliance and "physical ease".

The other works programmed are the rarely-heard Berceuse (in its second version) and the second Ballade - a pianistic tone-poem that Kentner surveys with both virtuosity and finesse. His is an inspired nobility to contrast with, say, Horowitz's Mephistophelean rage. There's room for both, but I suspect that, in the long run, Kentner's performances will prove the more durable.

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