Bernstein: Complete Solo Piano Music / Tozzetti

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Bernstein's piano output reflects the various strands of his multifaceted personality, in works as different as Touches (1981) and, at the other end of the...
Bernstein's piano output reflects the various strands of his multifaceted personality, in works as different as Touches (1981) and, at the other end of the scale, his often tender, sentimental Anniversaries. Taken together his piano works form a musical diary tracing the breadth of his experiences and ideas. Four of his Five Anniversaries (1949-51) appear as themes in his violin concerto, the Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium.” The personal commemorations he created were not portraits so much as self-portrayals, revealing different aspects of his own multi-faceted personality. To play these works well requires an understanding of the various elements that made up the Bernstein persona.

The Italian pianist Michele Tozzetti brings out the heartfelt tenderness of most of these tributes, the Jewish elements and the dance rhythms. In the Anniversary dedicated to Aaron Copland (in Seven Anniversaries, 1943), Tozzetti captures the sound and spirit of the man Bernstein called ‘my first friend in New York, my master, my idol, my sage, my shrink, my guide, my counselor, my elder brother, [and] my beloved friend.’ The pianist reveals a delicate sense of sonority along with fine dynamic control in For Paul Bowles, and brings an idiomatic edginess to For Sergei Koussevitzky. He also injects youthful vigor into Bernstein’s Sonata (1937), a probing work rich in counterpoint, written when the composer was still a student. Also on this recording are Non Troppo Presto, a manuscript discovered in the Leonard Bernstein archive at the Library of Congress; and Touches: Chorale, Eight Variations and Coda, commissioned by the Van Cliburn Piano Competition in 1981. Its bluesy chorale is identical to Virgo Blues, written for his daughter, Jamie on her twenty-sixth birthday in 1978. Bernstein dedicated this work ‘to my first love, the keyboard’. In Michele Tozzetti’s hands, that love is beautifully realized.



When you put it all together, there is a great deal to enjoy in Leonard Bernstein’s piano music. The Sonata, Music for the Dance, and Touches are strikingly stark and crunchy. The Sabras and Anniversaries are more personal and lyrical. The contrast between modernism and Bernstein’s more familiar nostalgic tunefulness is striking. The young pianist Michele Tozzetti plays with a deft touch and sharp articulation. As a bonus, one gets to read the superb program annotation of Stuart Isacoff, author of a wonderful new book on Van Cliburn.

– American Record Guide (Jack Sullivan)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: May 24, 2019

  • UPC: 5029365101745

  • Catalog Number: PCL10174

  • Label: Piano Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Leonard, Bernstein

  • Performer: Michele Tozzetti