Arabesque [1966]

Though a successful pianist, conductor, and composer in his lifetime, the late Nicholas Economou is probably best remembered for the empathic collaboration he provided Martha Argerich on numerous pieces for piano duet. But Argerich is certainly not one to choose her partners lightly, and this early '80s solo concert shows that Economou deserves greater remembrance. Floridly expressive when it comes to dynamics--gossamer whispers will roar into muscular fortissimos, then recede once again to near inaudibility--the pianist displays intelligence without ever losing his sense of passion. Such energy can lead to rushing his fingers ahead of the notes, and there are certainly times (such as Op. 16, No. 3) when the music loses out to the virtuosity. A flaw redeemed, however, by the emotive languorousness of No. 6 from the same work, or the tender, rolling Arabesque. Certainly nothing here will have you throwing out your Richter or Cortot, but these fine performances show Economou was more than a mere sideman; and by the final notes of Papillons the pianist has become the very image of a romantic soloist, his tangled locks pearled with sweat while his eyes search the sky for the next note to play. The DVD, continuing Pioneer Classics' admirable tradition, is well packaged for the music fan, providing good biographical and historical notes, a glossary, and their "Music Analysis" subtitles that provide an excellent running commentary on the pieces at hand. It's unfortunate that the individual numbers of Kreisleriana and Papillons aren't separately indexed for easy access, but that would only perfect an already fine presentation. --Bruce Reid

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