[Scarlatti / Piano Sonatas]: He particularly enjoys the colouristic possibilities of Kk9, given with great gentleness, each trill duly relished . . . The opening theme of Beethoven's C minor Variations is striking- the transparency of the piano's lower register really comes into its own in this piece and accented chords never become edgy. There are many fine things as the variations unfold, not least the ghostly Var 9, while in the major-key sequence (Vars 12-16) he makes apparent their anticipation of Beethoven's late style . . . [Variation no. 23] possesses mystery without murkiness and the shadowy scales with which the final variation begins are also very effective . . . [the Wagner/Liszt] is right up his street and he brings a rare range of colour and an apt grandeur to the "Parsifal" March, also demonstrating how well the new instrument conveys huge chordal sonorities while retaining a warmth in the quietest passages . . . the many passages of "Funérailles" at the bottom of the keyboard have a rare clarity . . . there's no question that this is a fascinating and wonderful instrument and DG's engineers have recorded it to the best effect.
. . . compelling . . . [what struck me immediately] was the sheer beauty of the sound. It was also startling to hear such distinct colours from each register . . . The Sonata in C major K 159 shows that the sound of the Maene-Barenboim can be brilliant in the opening fanfares. The trills in K 9 and K 380 have a vibrancy I had not appreciated on other instruments. Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor has plenty of power but also moments of unexpected intimacy. Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 is both brilliant and exciting . . . the "Solemn March to the Holy Grail" from Wagner's "Parsifal" is a veritable showpiece . . . The majestic octaves have a richness that almost defies description . . . [Barenboim's piano rendition of "Parsifal"] reflects his deep understanding of the score . . . [in Liszt's "Funérailles"] here again the bass notes ring out magnificently. Notably, even in fortissimo the sound never gets muddy; this is surely due both to Barenboim's artistry and to the quality of his new instrument.
. . . from the crisp, fresh Scarlatti that opens this recital, the sound is noticeably different . . . There's a lightness, clarity and definition to it; the music comes across more like an etching than an oil painting . . . the "Solemn March to the Holy Grail" from Wagner's "Parsifal" . . . [is] played with reverential atmosphere. Then "Funérailles" and the "Mephisto" Waltz No. 1, both of which allow Barenboim to show off the piano's response to virtuosic passagework, varied articulation and judicious pedalling.
. . . we have the best of both worlds with this instrument -- that sense of character from a fortepiano with the sheer range of resonance and attack available on a modern instrument . . . these pieces are in a sense being given new premières in this recording . . . Barenboim is usually excellent without being overly controversial, bringing out the best in his instrument and delivering a massively entertaining and effective recital at the same time . . . This is much more than a prototype however, and the results stand on their own two feet.
. . . [Barenboim's playing of Scarlatti] here seems to make the Trio as gentle and beautiful as possible, with rubato, pedals and a decidedly Romantic aesthetic . . . [in the 32 Beethoven Variations] again Barenboim goes for beauty all the way, coaxing every nuance tenderly, and indeed his piano reacts wonderfully: no textures are blurred in any register . . . It's a lovely idea to link the Wagner/Liszt march from "Parsifal" with Liszt's "Funérailles": The piano sounds superb in the "Parsifal" excerpt, chords perfectly placed and sweetly toned; it sustains the resonant climax, too. The darkest elements of the piano's tone possibilities are heard in" Funérailles "; beautifully sustained by Barenboim -- this is the clear highlight of the recital. The "Mephisto Waltz No 1" is a virtuoso close: very wide-ranging emotionally, with plenty of indulgence in the slower moments . . . Fascinating . . .
Dans "Funérailles" et "Méphisto" de Liszt, la conception est remarquable, l'expression juste, le climat prenant. On est happé par un jeu très concentré. La sonorité est décidément magnifique de couleurs, de transparence, de précision . . . Il nimbe les trois sonates de Scarlatti d'une sentimentalité précieuse et nuancée par une palette fabuleuse. L'imaginaire de l'artiste, qui détermine aussi ladite sonorité, s'épanouit dans la "Marche solennelle du Saint Graal de Parsifal", dont la lente procession se déploie dans le temps et l'espace avec majesté, dans la lumière douce et dorée d'un instrument hors du commun.