Here, along with the previous five volumes of piano music recorded 2004 by Dutch musician Paolo Giacometti on an 1858 Erard instrument with a light, fast action, is an opportunity to savor the operatic Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) in an entirely new light, as a deft, witty, and surprisingly virtuosic writer of salon music that easily compares to the work of Louis Moreau Gottschalk and looks ahead to Erik Satie. For music close to the heart of French absurdity, try the tripping, staccato etude Rossini calls Prelude Petulant-Rococo. Many of the pieces derive from a collection known familiarly as “Sins of My Old Age,” often whimsical and irreverent character sketches and free-form fantasies, mazurkas, waltzes, and light-hearted etudes. Constantly writing with an ear to the curious and piquant effect, Rossini employs wild appoggiaturas, runs, and harp sonorities in his so-called Chinese Plain-Chant. The set opens with quirky piece entitled Un Cauchemar, A Nightmare, which plays as a relatively benign vision. The Limping Waltz sounds like Vienna cross-fertilized by Leroy Anderson. In A Thought of Florence, we take a gondola ride that glitters with a sultry eroticism, at times hinting at a Chopin nocturne. Marche has a knotty Lisztian fervor, albeit in parody; and the colossal weight of the block chords topples the last page over in anticipation of Ravel’s dance-forms.
The huge piece in this collection is a strange waltz-form entitled Specimen of the Ancient Regime, an evocation of an untroubled, innocent age which would soon yield to political turmoil. The right hand runs, trills, imitative counterpoint, and redundant, broken chord melodies easily conjure up Gottschalk’s Creole sensibilities with hints of Schumann. Two contrasting pieces, Un Regret and Un Espoir, Lament and Hope, call for obsessive nostalgia followed by Scarlattian energy – Rossini’s anticipation of Kreisler’s Liebesleid/Liebesfreud combination. Finally, our eponymous Bolero Tartare, a piece of some length and in the Gottschalk mode, it outdoes Chopin in this particular idiom, calling on all sorts of bravura effects over an ostinato bass impulse. Excellent clarity of keyboard reproduction, courtesy of engineer C. Jared Sacks.
— Gary Lemco