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CD Review

Deveau Plays

Steinway 30051
  • Franz Liszt:
  • Funérailles, S. 173 #7
  • Nuages gris, S. 199
  • Am Grabe Richard Wagners, S. 202
  • Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll (arr. Josef Rubinstein)
  • Johannes Brahms:
  • Capriccio in B minor, Op. 76 #2
  • Capriccio in C Sharp minor, Op. 76 #5
  • Intermezzo in E Flat Major, Op. 117 #1
  • Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 118 #1
  • Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118 #2
  • Intermezzo in E Flat minor, Op. 118 #6
  • Intermezzo in C Major, Op. 119 #3
David Deveau, piano
Steinway Classics 30051 65:05
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Pianist David Deveau divulges the idea behind this recording in the brief album notes, stating the three composers represented "were to greater and lesser degrees, interconnected". Liszt and Wagner, yes. But Wagner and Brahms? They were rivals and contemporaries, though Wagner was twenty years older. Each rather despised the other's music, not least because their styles were totally different. They met on only one occasion and about the only thing they had in common was the enormous size of their egos. That said, there's no need to justify placing their music on the same disc. Actually, the selections here are quite well chosen, even if the Wagner transcription by Josef Rubinstein, well-crafted and honest though it is, doesn't quite adapt well to the keyboard. Still, it's pleasant music and well played by Deveau. Moreover, there appears to be no other currently available performance on record. Wagner mavens may well find this an interesting take on the composer's most popular orchestral work.

Deveau's Liszt is well played too, though there is an instance where it doesn't quite rise to the fever pitch required: in Funérailles the dramatic octave-laced buildup in the second half gains sufficient momentum and power as it proceeds but seems to lose a bit of thrust and energy near the end. The two short Liszt pieces, Nuages gris and Am Grabe Richard Wagners, are very sensitively interpreted, the former work a rather overlooked masterpiece. It's especially haunting and ghostly sounding in this performance.

The seven selections from Brahms' Opp. 76, 117, 118 and 119 are all masterful pieces and brilliantly played by Deveau. He uses a little more rubato (try the B minor Capriccio, Op. 76 #2), as well as numerous changes in dynamics, but always with taste and subtlety. Clearly the pianist has thought out his interpretations in great detail, but never sounds calculating or cold. The C-sharp minor Capriccio, Op. 76 #5, is lovely and stately in Deveau's caressing chords and faultless dynamics. The A minor Intermezzo, Op. 118 #1, for once doesn't come across as austere and cold but rather passionate and even warm. The A major Intermezzo, Op. 118 #2, is another utterly lovely performance, and even the darker works, like the E-flat minor Intermezzo, Op. 118 #6, come across with a more palatable gloom, thanks to the pianist's intelligent and sensitive phrasing.

Steinway Classics has provided excellent sound reproduction in all selections, making this disc a most desirable acquisition for those with an interest in this repertory.

Copyright © 2015, Robert Cummings