Recorded: Endler Hall, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
In his debut solo-CD, released on the TwoPianists label’s debut imprint, Ben synchronizes his great love for Franz Liszt with the bicentenary celebrations of the composer’s birth.
A beautiful variety of Liszt works, from the gorgeous Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este to the monumental B minor Sonata, coupled with his ‘dazzling virtuosity’ and ‘magical music-making’ ensure the stamp of a unique artist on the rise.
Ben Schoeman has a lively international performing career. He has played in prestigious concert halls such as the Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest.
He has performed in solo- and chamber music recitals at various international festivals in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.
-American Record Guide
South African pianist Ben Schoeman gets through the sonata in slightly less time and, aided by a deeply resonant Bösendorfer, gives greater weight to the contrasts between its sections.
Those sections are not separately tracked, so you must listen to the music in its entirety. Although he takes the fugal section at a more deliberate pace, it builds effectively enough.
Schoeman offers more than 20 minutes of additional music. He includes three selections from the Années de Pelerinage—one of them is the ‘Dante Sonata’, given a powerful presentation with much of the Lisztian rhetoric placed in proper perspective, and considerably less bothersome than usual. The other two pieces are given in spectacular lyrical and colorful splashes of sound that captivate and thrill.
-The Citizen, South Africa
Ben Schoeman is the current Standard Bank Young Artist for music, (the bank sponsored the recording of this collection) having earned his spurs with a bewildering array of impressive performances around the world.
Schoeman is a mild-mannered, polite sort, so he’s not one to brag in performance terms, but there’s no mistaking the ambition behind this debut – Franz Liszt is still widely regarded as one of the premier virtuosos to sit himself down at a piano.
Schoeman has selected pieces that cover many of the varied stages of Liszt’s formidable career, and listening to these different pieces while simultaneously reading through Barry Ross’s excellent sleeve notes will leave any listener with an increased appreciation of classical music in general, the health of the genre in South Africa, the complexity of Liszt’s work and the impact of Romaticism on modern music.
Look out for a phrase, for instance, about 25 minutes into the epic Sonata in B minor, S.178, that finds a later echo in one of the hooks in Schönberg’s music for Les Miserables.