Stewart Goodyear’s Trendy Tchaikovsky & Grieg Piano Concertos

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 7

Listening to these performances by Stewart Goodyear, the word that kept coming to mind was “impressive”. And Goodyear does indeed impress with his bullseye accuracy, rapid fingerwork, and an overriding sense of confidence borne from the mastery of his instrument. As with many of his generation, Goodyear tends to play very fast–especially in the Tchaikovsky, where his rapid-fire Finale, first-movement cadenza, and the Andantino semplice’s central section certainly make their mark. However, Martha Argerich, playing at similarly breakneck speeds (and in her recording with Kirill Kondrashin, far less accuracy) still manages to draw more feeling from, and evoke more appreciation for this music than Goodyear does.

In the Grieg concerto Goodyear sounds more focused on the music than on his performance (even though his rushed tempo immediately after the first-movement introduction feels like an attention grab), and his somewhat more stately and considered reading touches the heart as it stimulates the senses. It’s too bad he’s accompanied by conductor Stanislav Bogunia’s generally faceless reading with the not-world-class but sufficiently professional Czech National Symphony. Listen to Colin Davis with Murray Perahia to hear what a real partnership sounds like in this work.

Steinway & Sons heralds this release as its first orchestral recording, but sonically there’s little here to brag about. Instead of the warm, realistic sound of its excellent piano productions, this disc presents a flattened acoustic that provides little depth or breathing space, and sometimes turns harsh (the Grieg’s dramatic opening crescendo results in a sonic crash). The spotlight is squarely on Goodyear’s piano while the orchestra dwells in the background–nothing like it would sound in a live performance. Probably this arrangement will suit Goodyear fans just fine. But others should consider the listed alternatives for performances you can live with long term.



Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Grieg: Perahia/Davis (Sony), Kovacevich (Philips), Tchaikovsky: Cliburn (RCA), Argerich (DG)

  • Stewart Goodyear (piano)
  • Czech National Symphony, Stanislav Bogunia


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