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am 26. Dezember 2009
As some of you who read my customer reviews know, I review a lot of piano recordings and am particularly interested in new pianists. I truly believe we are in a golden age of pianism. See my recent reviews of Andreas Boyde Johannes Brahms: Complete Works For Solo Piano, Vol. 3 and Michael Endres Franz Schubert: Wandererfantasie and Other Works for Solo Piano, who may not be exactly new but were new to me. Now comes Benjamin Hochman and this appears to be his first solo recital CD. He is a young Israeli who studied at Curtis and Mannes with Claude Frank and Richard Goode. This recital contains two of the Bach Partitas (Nos. 4 & 6), the Berg Sonata, and the Webern Variations Op. 27.

I was particularly struck by Hochman's mastery of both Berg's and Webern's pieces. The Berg Op. 1 is given the right amount of luscious late romantic coloring, making it sound (as it is) very much an homage to the musical language and atmosphere of Tristan und Isolde. The Webern, on the other hand, is played with all the humor and spikiness it requires.

The Bach, however, is another matter. Technically it is superb. But, and this is perhaps just my own idiosyncratic view, it is played with too many rounded edges, too much smoothness, too much romantic expression. I know that for some that is a valid way to play Bach, but not for me. (I also don't particularly like András Schiff in this repertoire, so that might tell you what my taste is, and you certainly can decide accordingly whether this disc is for you.)

There is no question that Hochman is a marvelously talented player and I will eagerly listen to whatever else he chooses to record.

Scott Morrison
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