Piano recital disks can go a number of ways. The key is "recital." This generally means that it is first and foremost the pianist who is on display. The what of his program is perforce secondary to the artist as performer. So you generally get a mixed bag of compositions. If the pianist is exceptional, all falls into place. If not it can be hodge-podge time.
Thankfully the piano recital disk on tap for today is by a young pianist with a dashing muscularity. Behzhod Abduraimov, at 21, takes on some virtuoso romantic-early modern showpieces--works by Prokofiev, Liszt and Saint-Saens (Decca).
The Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6 forms the centerpiece of the program. It is a work he does quite well. Apparently Prokofiev is a composer with which Abduraimov has much affinity. When he won the prestigious London International Piano Competition in 2009, he garnered much praise for his performance of the composer's Piano Concerto No. 3.
The 6th Sonata in Abduraimov's hands most certainly comes alive. He attacks the work with the sort of determined motor brashness and alternating tenderness the work demands. It is quite an impressive performance.
His rendition of Danse Macabre (in the Liszt/Horowitz piano version) takes on an exhilarating aggressiveness as appropriate, and alternately works out the staccato-legato contrasts in the less driving passages with a sure touch and a subtle, orchestral discernment of lines.
The two Liszt works come off well also. The madly careening Mephisto Waltz No. 1 gets the full bravura showmanship that impresses for its youthful exhuberance. The slow movement of Liszt's "Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude" comes together with a long, lingering poeticism that captures the mood of the piece with plenty of finesse.
Bezhod Abduraimov leaves a powerful impression with this recital disk. He is a pianist with marvelous technique and a broadly sweeping dynamism and drive. The listener can't help but be carried inexorably forward with the excitement of his approach. Listen and you will be drawn into his maelstrom most willingly.