MOZART: Piano Sonatas (complete) – Robert Silverman, piano – IsoMike multichannel (4.0) SACD 5602 (7 discs), 7+ hours [www.isomike.com] *****:
These are quad recordings that are no less impressive for that, apparently the de Facto standard at IsoMike—a spinoff of high-end audio manufacturer Kimber Kable. Of course they are very careful in their recording process, this time at the Austad stage at Weber State University in Ogden Utah, which seats around 2000 people. According to the notes pianist Silverman is a true audiophile himself, so everyone looked forward to these 2007 recording adventures with a lot of anticipation. We are not disappointed here, as the true-to-life and wonderfully recorded Mozart masterpieces come through with a vibrancy and realistic presence as few do, so from a simple sonic standpoint these recordings go to the top of the heap in terms of splendiferous listening.
The IsoMike system, which involves the placing of four separate microphones divided by “Jumbo” ears, proves to be an ideal way to capture a piano. Even the concerns over hall reverberation, mentioned in the notes by the session photographer, proved pointless in the end, and there is none of that present on these recordings. There is reverb for sure, but controlled and balanced and kept in place by the miking system. Rarely has a Steinway sounded so natural and full of life.
Silverman is a known entity, having spanned the globe for 50 years now, and reaped many awards along the way, including a Grand Prix du Disc from the Liszt Society for his solo album, and a Juno Award for the complete Beethoven sonatas. His Mozart is equally affecting—while many might consider some of this playing anachronistic, I like to think of it as a real labor of love, the fruit of many years of experience with the music, and the assimilating of its mysteries in a very personal manner. It is not affected at all, yet the pianist doesn’t hesitate to hesitate when needed; lingering is not a moral issue with him, nor is the ideas of drama and long line. He takes Mozart’s every phrase as a personal conversation in a quiet room, and then relays the message to us later. Yet when power and authority is needed he provides it in spades, and the results are quite exciting. The best thing about these recordings is the complete avoidance of any sort of doctrinaire motives hovering in the background; each sonata is taken individually for what it means to convey, with no prerequisites being brought to the table. Think of the crispness of Brendel mixed with the subtlety of Uchida and you might get an idea of what Silverman has accomplished here. Most highly recommended!
— Steven Ritter
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