dda 25142      "Indescribably beautiful" - Music Web
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It is quite puzzling why, until very recently, the music of Bortkiewicz has not been widely known and loved: his high Romantic style makes him a natural to the legacy of Tchaikovsky, and he was a close contemporary of Rachmaninov. Born of Polish parentage, and later an Austrian citizen, Bortkiewicz lived in many parts of Europe but always considered himself truly Russian. This recording gives a wide sample of his work and will surely whet the appetite for more. Performed by Alfonso Soldano in his CD debut for Divine Art, a professor at the Conservatorio G. Braga in Teramo, Italy; he is also the biographer of the composer, a role which has given him unique insight into the mind and spirit of Bortkiewicz.


Esquisses de Crimée IV (extract)

dealer release date: October 14, 2016





CD program:
Lyrica Nova, Op. 59
Etude in D flat major, Op. 15 No. 8
Trois Mo
rceaux, Op. 24 - No. 1 Nocturne
Esquisses de Crimée, Op. 8
Prelude, Op. 13 No. 5
Prelude, Op. 40 No. 4
Prelude, Op. 66 No. 3
Piano Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 60

review extracts: for full reviews click here
“It would be hard to understand anyone who did not find his music to their taste, such are the rapturously gorgeous melodies that [the composer] weaves into these delightful compositions. They are totally satisfying and one wants to hear them again and again and it is quite impossible to single any out as being more attractive than any other. You cannot fail to be won over by Bortkiewicz's facility in writing the most wonderfully attractive and deliciously satisfying tunes. . One can only shake one's head in disbelief that this composer is not as equally well known or indeed equally popular as Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, and Liadov. Alfonso Soldano certainly seems at home playing this music and his obvious enthusiasm for it comes through strongly.” – Steve Arloff (MusicWeb)

“l've listened to this program twice through now and gone back to sample individual pieces, and l've come away feeling that if prejudices are left at the door and Bortkiewicz is given half a chance, his music will evoke strong emotions and cast a magic spell over you that will last long after it ends. Alfonso Soldano, who is new to this Divine Art series of Russian piano music, is a young, prize-winning Italian pianist blessed with Mediterranean good looks and a phenomenal technique. This is absolutely a fantastic disc. If you're not already acquainted with Bortkiewicz… prepare to be transported to a place of spell-binding splendor. If I could, l'd buy up every copy of this album and send it to every Fanfare subscriber; that's how much I love it. If you're as susceptible to this music as I am, you will love it too; I promise.” - Jerry Dubins (Fanfare)

“In many ways Sergei Bortkiewicz's music will remind the listener of Rachmaninov, however the stimuli are much wider. This is a fine introduction to Sergei Bortkiewicz's piano music. The playing is impressive, technically assured and quite simply beautiful.” – John France (MusicWeb)

“[The composer's] colourful and delicate imagination, idiomatic piano-writing and sensitivity to musical ideas, combined with his exceptional gift for melody, resulted in a style that is distinctive and appealing. A wide sample of his work is lovingly performed by Alfonso Soldano . Lyrical, nostalgic and melodic, this meticulously crafted music will please anyone who enjoys Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov.” - John Pitt (New Classics)

“ The music sounds surprisingly fresh, somewhere between Rachmaninov and early Scriabin, yet continuously original in its thematic-melodic creativity. So the end result sounds not so much derivative as an integral voice, another pianistic force within the style-set. Soldano makes a convincing case for these works, with virtuoso dramatics, sparkle, shimmer and dash. I find in Bortkeiwicz as presented here a real discovery, not in some history-changing sense but in the quality and originality of the music. Bravo! “ - Grego Edwards (Gapplegate Classical Modern Music)

“The twelfth volume in the Russian Piano Music Series of the Divine Art label offers us an anthology that will boost everyone's attention (music lovers, pianists, producers and critics). The interpretation of Soldano is imbued with refinement and nuance in perfect communion with the romantic spirit ... the virtuoso technical requirements first serve the vast expressive range of the composer, the extreme delicacy of changes moods, characters and feelings. This disc is therefore an excellent introduction to a composer who deserves to attract the spotlight on to his work.” – Guy Sauvé (Passion Musique et Culture)

“This pianist brings a fine fluency and coherence to the music… beautifully phrased and shaped. [The 2 nd Piano Sonata] is a particularly attractive sonata in all its varying moods. This is a valuable addition to this fine series, well recorded at the Concert Hall of the European Arts Academy ‘Aldo Ciccolini', Trani, Italy. There are excellent booklet notes and photographs.” - Bruce Reader (The Classical Reviewer)

“Now a CD has appeared, which presents an interpretation in which Bortkievicz's music comes in an optimal way. This is thanks to the pianist Alfonso Soldano, who plays this music with so much devotion and heart blood that one can not be but charmed. The almost heart-warming emotionality that Soldano puts into his interpretation is simply disarming. Moreover, Soldano represents Bortkievicz exactly what he is: as a composer of the twentieth century, who might have been born 80 years earlier. A remarkably beautiful piano sound in a marvellous recording also makes this CD a reference recording of Bortkievicz. I'd say this beats pretty much anything else I've heard of this composer from other pianists on other labels.” – Grete Catus (The New Listener)

“This is Volume 12 in Divine Art's Russian Piano Music series, and it joins other fine recordings of this composer, whose music will appeal immediately to anyone who enjoys the music of Rachmaninoff. Soldano's work here and the recording and booklet qualities all stand up fully to the other recordings. Bortkiewicz's piano writ­ing calls for a very secure technique. He is skillful at writing beautiful melodies, and I find his music generally positive and bright. Soldano clearly has an great affinity for this music and has also written a biography of Bortkiewicz. I have enjoyed this many times.” - James Harrington (American Record Guide)

“Pianist Alfonso Soldano takes on this music for what it plainly is, a form that refused to budge with the changing currents of its time. What emerges is not an apology for the music but an argument for its credibility. Bortkiewicz had a voice of his own, that subtly reshaped the familiar late Romantic sound... applying his unique subtleties to show us that the late Romantics may have given up too soon.” - Alex Baran (The Whole Note)