Reviews | RH-015 | SERGIO FIORENTINO | live in USA

6 April 2021 | Jonathan Woolf | Music Web International | Sergio Fiorentino - Live in USA  «The documentation of Sergio Fiorentino’s tours continues with this 9-CD box that contains American concert performances given between 1996-98. Rhine Classics has retained concert integrity, and doesn’t intersperse performances from one concert throughout the box, allowing one to hear whole performances except for those occasions when too much duplication would have been involved, even for his greatest admirers. The result is either a complete concert or items from complete concerts. [...] The various Newport Music Festival concerts and venues are outlined in the excellent booklet and there is an index of works performed as well as detailed track listings. Everything has been remastered to a high degree except where the original source material is inevitably somewhat compromised (that Alice Tully Hall concert but it’s the only such example). Some photographs grace the booklet – there’s a very good one of the charmingly reserved Fiorentino, in tie and tails, and the looming Igor Kipnis, for example - and some of the programmes are reprinted along with some of the adulatory critical responses from the local critics. Add this to your Rhine Classics’ Rachmaninov set and his Taiwan disc and then consider it alongside his Berlin recordings to reach a truly impressive overview of Fiorentino in the 1990s. »
CHOC | April 2021 | Jean-Charles Hoffelé | CLASSICA No.231 (p. 107) Pianos d'hier - Re(Découvertes)  |  Sergio Fiorentino Live in USA 1996-1998 « ... le pianiste napolitain déboutonna son piano dans un programme conclu par un feu d'artifice de pièces de virtuosité. Le public de l'East Coast avait trouvé son nouveau Jorge Bolet. [...] des raretés jouées avec une élégance poétique venue d'un autre temps [...] où la fantaisie s'allie à un chic irrésistible, enthousiasmant le public. » 
25 March 2021 | Stephen Greenbank | Music Web International | Sergio Fiorentino - live in USA  «Life-enriching performances. | This recently released 9CD collection from Rhine Classics documents Sergio Fiorentino’s live performances in the USA between 1996 and 1998. The lion’s share of the concerts derive from the Newport Festival, in addition to two performances from Alice Tully Hall, New York and a couple of live broadcasts courtesy of WGBH Radio Boston. [...] He opens three of his recitals with Bach, transcribed by Busoni. There’s clarity of articulation and delineation of polyphonic lines in the fugues, with the preludes grandiloquent and soul-searching. [...] Poetry, intimacy and warmth inform Schubert’s Sonata in B flat, D960. Fiorentino has full measure of the work’s architecture and structure. The dark elemental forces of the slow movement make their presence felt, with the bright and joyous Scherzo providing some relieving balm. The genial song-like character of the outer movements of the Sonata in A major D 664 is a welcome counterpoise to the melancholic and bittersweet flavour of the central Andante. [...] It’s worth mentioning a superb performance of the epic Chopin's Fourth Ballade from Boston Radio on CD 9. It captures the striking contrasts between tender lyricism and violent drama. [...] Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No 2 in G-sharp minor, Op 19 “Sonata-Fantasy”. Fiorentino’s impressionistic colours and myriad shadings conjure a mystical effect, and the second movement’s pianissimos are breathtaking. [...] It’s pleasing to hear the pianist in chamber music collaborations, and there are two marvelous examples in the collection. Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Winds, Op 16 [...] the Franck Quintet, taped in Newport a year earlier, is a reading of emotional urgency and smouldering potency. The wistful slow movement radiates an autumnal glow, with the framing outer movements heated and intense.. [...] The material derives from several sources and has been expertly restored by the 24bit/96Khz remastering process. The audio quality throughout is, for the most part, very good. The booklet includes detailed track listings and timings, in addition to a selection of contemporary reviews of the concerts by eminent critics. Photographs of Fiorentino relaxing at the pool table are a pleasing bonus. A quote from Eric Johnson, Director of Yamaha Artist Services (October 1998), encapsulates what this compelling collection has to offer: “My life is richer from having known and heard him”. »
March 2021 | Rob Cowan | GRAMOPHONE (pg. 88) | REPLAY Some Legendary Pianists    « Rob Cowan's monthly survey of historic reissues and archive recordings --  [...] referenced by Sergio Fiorentino in a revealing interview included on Rhine Classics' impressive "live in USA 1996-97-98", where this belatedly discovered great (though modest) pianist offers dazzlingly direct accounts of such major works as Schumann's Fantasie, Op.17 (various versions are included), Beethoven's Op.110 and Rachmaninov's Second Sonata. There are copious Chopin selections, Brahms' Op.39 Waltzes and quintets by Franck and Beethoven (with excellent young players) recorded at the Newport Festival. Fiorentino's signature qualities of brilliance, clarity, fluency, attention to inner voices, thunderous climaxes and frequent delicacy inform virtually everything he plays, as well as his ability to either retreat or come to the fore as necessary in chamber music, while the stereo sound quality is in general first-rate. [...] »
16 January 2021 | Mark Ainley | The Piano Files | Favourite Releases of 2020   « Rhine Classics delivers two more releases in their Fiorentino and Scarpini series, one new set of each artist. After 2019’s jaw-dropping complete Rachmaninoff solo music by Sergio Fiorentino, 2020 saw a 9-CD set of the Italian pianist in recital in the US in the last three years of his life (1996-98). All master tapes were provided by Ernst Lumpe, the German collector who brought Fiorentino back to the concert stage and the studio (Lumpe introduced me to his playing when I first visited him in 1990). The sound is superb, as is the playing throughout – always insightful, moving, individual yet idiomatic. There is one recital at which he experienced some memory lapses, but even there his playing was mesmerizing, and each disc features some of the most sublime pianism you could hope to hear – every note, phrase, piece is beautifully played. »
27 December 2020 | Jean-Charles Hoffelé | ARTAMAG' - Focus | Le disque du jour | Sergio Fiorentino - TERRE PROMISE   «[...] Les accidents de la vie le forcèrent à ce retrait, mais on vint le chercher, sa légende n’était pas morte, Aldo Ciccolini lorsque je lui demandais sans impertinence un jour chez lui à Asnières qui était le plus grand pianiste italien vivant, me répondit du tac au tac : « Fiorentino ». [...]  Un prodigieux concert Chopin à Newport en 1997 le montre d’une fantaisie et d’une élégance folle, ce piano-là est d’un autre temps, et c’est un éden. La joie le transfigure comme dans tout ce qu’il égrainera sur des scènes plus ou moins prestigieuses, et sur des pianos qui sont ce qu’ils sont mais ne résistent pas à qui les aime autant. Ecoutez comment il se débrouille de celui du Breakers de Newport, au clavier un peu lourd pour les Métamorphoses symphoniques que Leopold Godowsky fait subir à Johann Strauss ; l’année suivante, pour le récital Chopin, il sera mieux réglé). [...]  Au long de ses concerts, Sergio Fiorentino égrène son répertoire de prédilection, la Deuxième Sonate de Scriabine, des Rachmaninov saturés de couleurs dont une Deuxième Sonate qu’il paysage dans le plus profond de son piano, la si bémol de Schubert au trille de rossignol (car les rossignols chantent dans le grave), des Valses de Brahms, choisies parce qu’aimées, et des raretés qui pour lui étaient monnaie courante, comme le Thème et Variations de Tchaïkovski, et même comme au débotté, le Quintette avec vents de Beethoven, ou le Quintette de Franck.  [...]  Mais ses Adieux et son Opus 110 de Beethoven, sa Fantaisie de Schumann, rappellent qu’il regardait l’essentiel du répertoire de son instrument en n’en sachant tout, et qu’il le jouait ainsi, avant, avec l’élégance d’un prince, jusqu’à promener ses doigts dans les fantaisies d’ivoire et d’ébène des Valses du Rosenkavalier qu’il s’était arrangées pour lui, en reprenant la transcription de Singer pour la pimenter de personnages.  [...]  Tout cela est ici, enclos dans cette boîte parfaite, patiemment ouvragée par Emilio Pessina, et je l’en remercie. »
22 December 2020 | Luca Ciammarughi | Radio Classica - podcast | IL PIANISTA | Sergio Fiorentino - live in USA (parte 1)     «Incredible publication to say the least. Box of the Year! | Oggi “Il pianista” presenta la prima di una serie di puntate dedicate a un box Rhine Classics eccezionale, che vede riunite le incisioni statunitensi di Sergio Fiorentino negli anni 1996-97-98. Lo commenta Luca Ciammarughi. Partiremo da brani di Bach / Busoni / Fiorentino, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Johann Strauss II / Godowsky...e un po’ di Chopin. | Today “Il pianista” presents the first of a series of episodes dedicated to an exceptional Rhine Classics box, which brings together the American recordings of Sergio Fiorentino in the years 1996-97-98. Luca Ciammarughi comments. We will start with pieces by Bach / Busoni / Fiorentino, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Johann Strauss II / Godowsky ... and a bit of Chopin.»
NMZ BEST OF 2020 | nmz Neue Musikzeitung | December 2020 - January 2021 | nmz 12/20 - 1/21 (page 14) | Christoph Schlüren | « Und unbedingt muss das wagemutige Unternehmen des italienischen Tonmeisters und Violinpapsts Emilio Pessina genannt werden, der seine Anthologien bei Rhine Classics in Taiwan herausgibt. Da sind ganz neu umfassende Schatzkisten erschienen von Gabriella Lengyel, der letzten Schülerin Hubays, überwiegend mit ihrem Bruder, dem vorzüglichen Pianisten Atty Lengyel, von wunderbarem Schubert und Mendelssohn zu Entlegenem vor allem ungarischer Meister wie Harsányi, Veress oder Arma; fast nur Live-Aufnahmen von Jean Ter-Merguerian, in den Augen von Kollegen wie Rostropowitsch, Szeryng, Francescatti und Ferras einer der großartigsten Geiger überhaupt (einen schöneren, edleren Ton gibt es nicht!), ganz groß in Beethoven, Brahms und Khachaturian; späte Konzertmitschnitte (1996–98) des Meisterpianisten Sergio Fiorentino aus den USA, darunter auch hinreißend musizierte Kammermusik wie Francks Quintett oder Beet­hovens Quintett mit Bläsern; und vom legendären Pietro Scarpini zu Hause gemachte Aufnahmen des kompletten Wohltemperierten Klaviers und der Kunst der Fuge in kristalliner Klarheit (alles bei Rhine Classics, erstaunlich preiswert direkt von der Website zu beziehen). »

COURAGEOUS ENTERPRISES « Also worth mentioning is the daring venture of Italian sound engineer and "Violin-expert" Emilio Pessina, who publishes anthologies under the Rhine Classics label in Taiwan. [...] late American concerts recordings (1996-1998) by the Italian master pianist Sergio Fiorentino including lovely chamber music such as Franck's Quintet or Beethoven's Quintet for Piano and Winds [...] »