Author Topic: Sergio Fiorentino  (Read 8494 times)

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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2016, 05:27:42 PM »
A very patrician, elegant artist. Perhaps a year before his death, he hoped to make a comeback and that included a recital in NY's Alice Tully Hall. I'm looking up the exact year in the NYTimes; I assume there was a review. I hadn't hear of him before and a group of us from a former incarnation of these message boards got an email telling us we must hear this stellar pianist! And so I went down and he was indeed something special. I remember that he started with an elegant version of the Bach-Busoni D major organ toccata and fugue (532), played very coloristically; then he programmed op. 110 and had a massive memory slip. He completely dropped the G minor return of the fugue and finally worked his way back to the last few minutes of the piece. The audience was more than prepared to forgive, but obviously the slip rattled him. Here's Tomassini from March 1998 (I remember a lot of salon encore pieces, but not the Schumann):

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It would be difficult for any artist of 71 to make a comeback. But in the case of the Italian pianist Sergio Fiorentino, who played a recital at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday night, his return to the concert stage has come after a hiatus of 35 years.

Mr. Fiorentino, who was born in Naples, had won several prizes and embarked on a promising career by the time he was 21. His acclaimed American debut came in 1953. But the following year, his spine was injured in a South American plane crash. After some years away, he returned to concert giving and made a series of recordings still prized among collectors. But by the early 1960's, he had stopped performing and settled into teaching.

Then in 1994 he returned to the stage. Last year he played a little-noticed New York recital. This time, though the hall was not full, the audience was rooting for him. And by the time he played his seventh encore, this courtly, wizened gentleman must have felt a sense of arrival.

There were indications in his playing of what must have been astonishing virtuosity and elegance, and there is still much to admire. His tone is warm and full-bodied yet never harsh. There was breadth of line and great character in his musical conceptions, especially in his performance of the extraordinary transcription by Ferruccio Busoni of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in D Major for organ.

That said, Mr. Fiorentino's playing was not fully controlled. In the last movement of Beethoven's late piano sonata, Op. 110, his playing was tentative, and he suffered a serious memory lapse.

The most rewarding performance was of Schumann's great Fantasy, Op. 17. The playing was spacious and lyrical in the first movement, and there was vigor and rhythmic crispness in the march.

He was the most relaxed in some of the encores, especially chestnuts like Chopin's ''Minute Waltz'' and Etude in C-Sharp Minor, which he dashed off with panache.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2016, 05:29:36 PM by (poco) Sforzando »
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Offline Holden

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #41 on: February 27, 2016, 02:26:31 PM »
TRACK LIST!!!!!

Fiorentino - Early Recordings 1953-1966 - 10 CD box
CD1
Beethoven: 32 Variations in C minor; Appassionata
Mozart: Concerto No. 21
Chopin: Sonata No. 2

CD2
Bach: Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue; Italian Concerto; Chaconne; "Organ Prelude and Fugue in D minor" (?)
Beethoven: Pathetique
CD3
Beethoven: Moonlight, Waldstein
Schumann: Faschingsschwank, Kinderszenen
CD4
Schumann: Carnaval, Arabeske, Symphonic Etudes
Brahms: Paganini Variations
CD5
Brahms: Handel Variations
miniatures & encores by Mendelssohn (an etude and a Song without Words), Borodin, Rachmaninov (Polka de V.R. and transcriptions)
CD6
Chopin: 4 Ballades, 4 Scherzi
CD7
Chopin: 27 Etudes
CD8
Chopin: 19 Waltzes, 4 Impromptus
CD9
Chopin: various polonaises
CD10
Chopin: more polonaises + Fantasy on Polish Airs

As I've mentioned in another thread, a lot of Fiorentino attributed material was issued by Concert Artists, much of which is dubious. I am hoping that none of these recordings have been sourced from them. I've checked the Fiorentino website and he did make make recordings of all the material listed. However, the website lists the "Moonlight sonata" as 'now suspicious'. The Fantasy on Polish Airs does not appear as a recording on the site.

I think I'll get this set.

There is a lot more Fiorentino material out there just sitting and waiting to be released. Let's hope this label continues to do so.

EDIT: I have ordered this today. I have some of the recordings (a 2 CD assortment which I've highlighted in the track listing) in the set thanks to Ernst Lumpe who, more than anyone else, has brought Fiorentino to the spotlight. When I got those 2 CDs I was hoping that someone would reissue much of what is left and thankfully this has come to pass. It is also the last part of the edition so no Chopin Preludes or Nocturnes (of which I have the first nine). I do have a CDR of the Preludes and they are interesting for the way they are interpreted.

I'll report back when the CDs arrive.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 02:19:14 PM by Holden »
Cheers

Holden

Offline Holden

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #42 on: June 30, 2016, 10:38:03 AM »
This has arrived and I immediately went for the two Schumann discs based on previous listening to his Schumann on APR.

Once again I am reminded of how good this man was as a musician and pianist. He really makes you sit up and listen like the music is brand new. One thing that is a standout from the two CDs I've listened to is his wide dynamic range, even for music lifted directly from LP sources.

My next listen will be some of his Chopin as I am interested to hear, outside of YouTube, how he handles the mighty Etudes. The Waltzes come next - was he the first to go past the traditional '14' and record all 19 known works? Ditto for the Polonaises.

I'll report back but already I'm very pleased I bought this set.
Cheers

Holden

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #43 on: June 30, 2016, 11:25:44 AM »
This has arrived and I immediately went for the two Schumann discs based on previous listening to his Schumann on APR.

Once again I am reminded of how good this man was as a musician and pianist. He really makes you sit up and listen like the music is brand new. One thing that is a standout from the two CDs I've listened to is his wide dynamic range, even for music lifted directly from LP sources.

My next listen will be some of his Chopin as I am interested to hear, outside of YouTube, how he handles the mighty Etudes. The Waltzes come next - was he the first to go past the traditional '14' and record all 19 known works? Ditto for the Polonaises.

I'll report back but already I'm very pleased I bought this set.

Thanks, Holden. Is this entire set sourced from LPs?

It seems odd that they didn't include his Chopin Preludes.  >:(
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Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #44 on: June 30, 2016, 02:24:25 PM »
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline Holden

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2016, 01:39:38 PM »
Thanks, Holden. Is this entire set sourced from LPs?

It seems odd that they didn't include his Chopin Preludes.  >:(

No, there are recordings sourced from master tapes as well.

I agree about the Preludes, fortunately I have a copy on CD. Maybe there were some copyright issues.

Fiorentino also recorded the complete Nocturnes and they aren't there either.
Cheers

Holden

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2016, 01:49:43 PM »
No, there are recordings sourced from master tapes as well.

Cool, thanks.

How are the tracks that are sourced from vinyl? Did they do a good job (meaning retained the piano tone by not de-noising the transfer)?

Quote
I agree about the Preludes, fortunately I have a copy on CD. Maybe there were some copyright issues.

Fiorentino also recorded the complete Nocturnes and they aren't there either.

I still wonder if he actually did those. To me, they aren't played nearly as well as his Preludes are.
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Offline Holden

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #47 on: July 03, 2016, 02:52:49 PM »
The sound is variable at times but overall pretty good. I can't detect any excessive denoising but maybe some were declicked. I've been through just about all the 10 CDs and am very happy with what I've got.

According to the website set up by Ernst Lumpe: http://www.fortepianos.org/elumpe/SFDiscography.html

Nocturnes ##1 - 20 recorded: 4 & 5 March 1960 London, Olympic Studios and these are genuine. I agree that they don't rate up there with the preludes. They were released on 2CDs by Saga - I have CD 1 only, a CDR from a friends collection.
Cheers

Holden

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #48 on: July 03, 2016, 03:23:07 PM »
Thanks very much, Holden!
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online Brian

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2019, 06:11:54 AM »
Cross posting from "Purchases Today" as I think it's newsworthy:

I've been eyeing the tiny new archive-mining label Rhine Classics for a while. Based in Taiwan, Rhine Classics unearths and remasters previously unissued live tapes, often from artists who left virtually no recorded legacy. (To quote their site: " mostly never before released material | 24bit/96kHz | NO denoise | state of the art remastering ") But they're expensive, unavailable in conventional web stores, and until this week didn't have any sound clips available online.

Well, this week they finally uploaded some sample clips. They ALSO jacked up the prices and then announced a "sale" lowering prices back to normal. I strongly suspects this means a permanent price hike is coming very shortly. So I decided to take the plunge:



For Fiorentinophiles like me, this stuff just looks irresistible. The source is Fiorentino's own master tapes. Clips for the Taiwan recital and for the Rach solo cycle, which was performed and recorded live as a cycle over a series of concerts in September 1987.

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #50 on: June 20, 2019, 06:05:23 PM »
Cross posting from "Purchases Today" as I think it's newsworthy:

I've been eyeing the tiny new archive-mining label Rhine Classics for a while. Based in Taiwan, Rhine Classics unearths and remasters previously unissued live tapes, often from artists who left virtually no recorded legacy. (To quote their site: " mostly never before released material | 24bit/96kHz | NO denoise | state of the art remastering ") But they're expensive, unavailable in conventional web stores, and until this week didn't have any sound clips available online.

Well, this week they finally uploaded some sample clips. They ALSO jacked up the prices and then announced a "sale" lowering prices back to normal. I strongly suspects this means a permanent price hike is coming very shortly. So I decided to take the plunge:



For Fiorentinophiles like me, this stuff just looks irresistible. The source is Fiorentino's own master tapes. Clips for the Taiwan recital and for the Rach solo cycle, which was performed and recorded live as a cycle over a series of concerts in September 1987.

Thanks for posting this, Brian! That Rachmaninoff set looks especially tempting. I hope this set comes to amazon, as I am a Prime member.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online Brian

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #51 on: June 20, 2019, 06:14:16 PM »
Thanks for posting this, Brian! That Rachmaninoff set looks especially tempting. I hope this set comes to amazon, as I am a Prime member.
Rhine ships worldwide for free. But I did see their catalog in the Naxos distribution system scheduled for August...

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #52 on: June 21, 2019, 10:54:49 AM »
Rhine ships worldwide for free. But I did see their catalog in the Naxos distribution system scheduled for August...

Wow, free worldwide shipping is attractive. Have you bought from them before without any problems?
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online Brian

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #53 on: June 21, 2019, 11:33:31 AM »
Wow, free worldwide shipping is attractive. Have you bought from them before without any problems?
Nope, first time. I was hesitant but we'll see - when it arrives I'll post how long it took, maybe a picture, and in fuller time some comments about the performances.

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #54 on: June 21, 2019, 11:37:15 AM »
Nope, first time. I was hesitant but we'll see - when it arrives I'll post how long it took, maybe a picture, and in fuller time some comments about the performances.

Thanks, I look forward to it!
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline George

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"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online Brian

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #56 on: July 09, 2019, 05:25:48 AM »
Cross posting from "Purchases Today" as I think it's newsworthy:

I've been eyeing the tiny new archive-mining label Rhine Classics for a while. Based in Taiwan, Rhine Classics unearths and remasters previously unissued live tapes, often from artists who left virtually no recorded legacy. (To quote their site: " mostly never before released material | 24bit/96kHz | NO denoise | state of the art remastering ") But they're expensive, unavailable in conventional web stores, and until this week didn't have any sound clips available online.

Well, this week they finally uploaded some sample clips. They ALSO jacked up the prices and then announced a "sale" lowering prices back to normal. I strongly suspects this means a permanent price hike is coming very shortly. So I decided to take the plunge:



For Fiorentinophiles like me, this stuff just looks irresistible. The source is Fiorentino's own master tapes. Clips for the Taiwan recital and for the Rach solo cycle, which was performed and recorded live as a cycle over a series of concerts in September 1987.
My copies have arrived and I've started listening so thought I would set down a few thoughts.

First, as to the ordering. Rhine Classics CDs ship from Taiwan for free worldwide. The web shop told me that it would update the status page when my order shipped, and also told me there would be a tracking number on my PayPal invoice. Neither of these things were true, so I had no way of knowing when my box would arrive. It turned out to be 16 calendar days, including Sundays and the July 4 holiday. The box was sturdy and in immaculate condition; the inside was crammed to the last centimeter with Taiwanese newspapers. Interesting reading  ;D

The CD packaging is very professional. I haven't opened the Live in Taiwan recital yet, but I opened the Rachmaninov box - very sturdy again, and matte finish rather than shiny if that matters to you (I think shiny is a bit cheap-looking), with sleeves made from something a little more durable than paper. One of the CD sleeves spent a hot, hot Texas day in my car without getting all warped by the heat and humidity. There's a 32-page booklet all in English with a short biographical essay on Fiorentino, a longer reminiscence by the Italian guy who organized the Rachmaninov concert series, and a philosophical interview with Fiorentino as well. It's all actually pretty fascinating - I enjoyed reading about the artist's attitude toward concertizing and teaching. The Italian impresario's essay is quite amusing; there's a little bit where he says he was preparing to advertise the live Rach cycle as the first time a virtuoso had ever presented the complete solo works of Rachmaninov live. But then he realized that Howard Shelley had done it in London a few years prior. His judgment: "Shelley is a respected pianist, but not a virtuoso." So he didn't change the ads. ;D

The booklet also includes color photos of the original concert programs and the handwritten score of Fiorentino's own transcription of "Vocalise".

On to the listening. So far I've listened to the preludes Opp. 23 and 32 and one of the "bonuses" included, a live radio broadcast of the Paganini Rhapsody from 1991 (Santa Cecilia/Fedoseyev). The prelude performances are dazzling. They're much faster than the young Fiorentino's studio recording - totaling 65:30ish without the notorious C sharp minor. But really only Op. 32 No. 8 suffers from haste; it's a blur that tests the boundary of coherence. The rest is dazzlingly virtuosic from a pianist who didn't like to show off, with varied characterization given to each individual piece. After hearing a lot of studio-bound, overly cautious recordings in recent years that don't differentiate between the different moods of the different preludes, it's nice to hear somebody treat them all like separate creatures. The famous G minor march is some of the most exhilarating playing I've heard from this pianist. And the great B minor prelude Op. 32 No. 10 - in a reading much slower than is traditional - is just enormously powerful.

There is one big, big caveat. For whatever reason, Fiorentino's own original master tapes for Op. 23 Nos 2-10 have shifted up a whole step. It doesn't really sound warped. But the radiant prelude in D is absolutely, 100% in the key of E, and that march I mentioned is very definitely in A minor. This is confusing as hell, especially because the 32-page booklet does not discuss tape provenance or give any hint as to what was about to happen to my ears. But after a while, I was able to adjust, and when each prelude ended, my brain was able to transpose my mental expectation for the next piece. There is luckily no such problem with Op. 32.

And then we have the Paganini Rhapsody. It's that rarest of creatures, a 1991 mono recording, probably a private copy of a radio broadcast. (Again, an essay about provenance would have been nice.) True, the glockenspiel rings out across the whole soundstage, but actually the sound is very clear and decently balanced, and you can hear everybody. It's especially a pleasure to hear the piano and orchestra trade phrases back and forth like jazz musicians.

Oh: and the performance is a knockout. Like "I forgot how good this piece is" good. It helps that Fiorentino and Fedoseyev don't bother with little pauses between variations; instead they let the music flow unceasingly, in a stream that only builds momentum until the big moments. It's truly rhapsodic. And Variation 18 is no exception - instead of stopping the show and getting all Hollywoody, everybody enjoys the big moment, plays it to the hilt, and then jumps right on to the next thing. As with some of the preludes, I'm dazzled by how effortless our protagonist makes it sound.

Will definitely be spinning the Corelli and Chopin Variations later this week, and probably another CD on the weekend. So far, some critiques as to how this box was done, but good ol' Sergio is very much holding up his end of the bargain. And so far as I can tell without hearing more about it, the Rhine sound guy(s) did their best with the audio sources they had.

Offline George

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #57 on: July 09, 2019, 10:24:36 AM »
Thanks very much for that, Brian!
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Online Brian

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Re: Sergio Fiorentino
« Reply #58 on: July 17, 2019, 06:31:05 AM »
Quick update: the Corelli variations, Vocalise transcription, and very early romantic salon pieces Opp. 2 and 10 are very good too (Op. 10 is played out of order). The early stuff isn't my favorite Rach but Fiorentino makes it sound a lot more musically substantial than most interpreters do.