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CLASSICAL MUSIC | RECORDINGS

She's venting her power of inventing

October 09, 2005|Richard S. Ginell

Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Falla, Ginastera, Chopin, Liszt, Improvisations

Gabriela Montero, piano

(EMI Classics)

* * *

A 35-year-old Venezuelan protegee of Martha Argerich, Gabriela Montero is a classical pianist with a big difference, one who can improvise on the spot. The main attraction here is the second half of the two-disc set, a so-called "bonus disc" on which Montero takes off on 12 short improvisations on specific pieces -- including two of the compositions on the first half -- and on generic styles. These improvs are, for the most part, rather pretty, melodic, elegiac with a few jazzy outcroppings, not too technically challenging and not all that gripping. One would like to hear more of the passion and bite that Montero lavishes upon Ginastera and Rachmaninoff in her own creations. But the point is made; hers is the rare and welcome case where a musician's natural impulse to invent was not stifled by pedantic teachers. Disc 1 has a good mix of Romantic war horses and Latin showpieces on which Montero proves that she has plenty of technical firepower. Ginastera's three volatile "Danzas Argentinas" are also in Argerich's repertoire, and although Montero can whip them up, she doesn't push the rumbling violence quite as far as Martha.

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