Christian Schaper, Kritik zur Tacet-CD: Schumann, Robert: Klavierquartett op. 47 & Klavierquintett op. 44, 18.04.2010
... Als stiller Star der Aufnahme aber erweist sich der Pianist: Peter Orth, US-Bürger und Serkin-Schüler, mit großer Konzertkarriere jenseits des Atlantiks im Rücken, ist nach fast zwei Jahrzehnten in seiner deutschen Wahlheimat und z. T. hochdekorierten Kammermusikplatten noch immer eher Insidern ein Begriff. Wie er die ganze Einspielung durch Zurückhaltung beherrscht, dabei wunderbare mikroagogische Pointen setzt und auch in den brillanten Passagen allenfalls zum primus inter pares wird – das ist hintergründiges Musizieren par excellence. Und das Zusammenspiel der fünf Akteure gerät makellos. Man höre nur den langsamen Satz des Klavierquintetts; bereits das Thema, immer wieder stockend und doch schier endlos, vereint alle Vorzüge dieser Aufnahme: die pianistische Dezenz, den gedeckten Ton, ein qualitätvolles Piano, makellose Phrasierung, über jeden noch so großen Abgrund hinwegtragende Spannungsbögen, vor allem aber die Kunst des unmerklichen Übergangs bei beeindruckend abgebildeter Tiefenstaffelung. Die Stabübergabe könnte leichter nicht von der Hand gehen; alles greift wie selbstverständlich ineinander. Und was auch am Hörer vorüberzieht in dieser Gefühlsstafette – stets treffen die Interpreten den poetischen Kern der kompositorischen Faktur.
Es ist ein glückhaftes Gelingen, das aus diesen zweimal vier Sätzen spricht – jeder von ihnen ein Schwergewicht für sich, und doch alle perfekt gegeneinander austariert. Orth und die Auryns lassen das erlebbar werden, und beschönigt wird dabei nichts, im Gegenteil: Man gibt sich betont ungeschminkt, Ausdruck geht im Zweifel vor Intonation (über dem unbestechlichen Klavier liegt so manches gnadenlos offen), und wegen bloßer Blättergeräusche wird schon gar kein Take verworfen. Authentizität ist eben nicht immer nur eine Frage der Instrumentenwahl. ...
The New York Times, October 15, 2007
Tackling Familiar Repertory With Tenderness and Fervor
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
When the Philadelphia-born Peter Orth took first prize in the 1979 Naumburg International Piano Competition, he seemed poised for a major career. Since then he has played in recital halls and with orchestras around the world. Still, for whatever reasons, he has had more success in Europe than in his native country and has been living in Cologne, Germany, since 1992.
Mr. Orth has an ardent following in New York, though, as was clear from the enthusiastic reception that greeted his recital on Friday night at Zankel Hall, sponsored by the Hausmusik-Meet the Artist series. For his program Mr. Orth set the bar very high in many respects.
Beethoven’s Sonata in E (Op. 109) may be the most often played of his late piano works. Mr. Orth followed this with Chopin’s complete 24 Preludes, another formidable, though not uncommon, undertaking.
After intermission he took on the mighty Sonata in B minor by Liszt. In playing such monumental and familiar repertory, a pianist inevitably sets himself up for comparison with a great legacy of past performances.
Mr. Orth was most impressive in the Liszt, a notoriously difficult piece to bring off. Though called a sonata, this rhapsodic work is like some possessed and impulsive fantasy. Mr. Orth conveyed the music’s volatility while making the score seem one long, inevitable arc of inspiration. He dispatched the cascades of octaves and knotty passage work with command.
He does tend to play with very heavy-handed piano tone; even softer lyrical passages had a weighty, sometimes too thick substance. But his steely, crashing fortissimos were perfect for the Liszt. Frenzied climaxes came across with brassy orchestral fervor. That he can play with tenderness was clear during the sonata’s strangely ruminative passages, exceptionally well paced and shaped here.
Mr. Orth also gave a distinctive account of the Beethoven. While attentive to the work’s elusive structure, he captured its mysticism and fantasy. Once in a while a fugato episode or fortissimo outburst emerged with too much thumpy brashness for my taste. Still, this was a fine performance.
From piece to piece in his account of the 24 Chopin preludes, I went from being captivated by some fresh idea or wonderful color (the honest clarity of the whirling Prelude in G, the organic shape he brought to the banshee ride of the Prelude in F sharp minor) to being perplexed by some interpretive turn (the pummeling bluntness of the Prelude in G sharp minor).
In his encore, “The Maiden and the Nightingale” from Granados’s “Goyescas,” Mr. Orth was at his subtlest and most elegant.
The New York Sun, October 15, 2007
Smaller in Body, Smaller in Sound
By FRED KIRSHNIT
Mr. Orth is a Naumburg Award winner from the 1970s, whose career has since radiated from his home in Cologne and rendered him perhaps less well known in America as a result. His recital was quite thrilling, notable for a secure combination of passion, technique, and poetic expression.
The Preludes are almost exclusively given as a set, although the composer did not necessarily hear them that way. Mr. Orth's version stressed their structural unity and reinforced the modern view that Chopin was truly a classicist in the thrall of Mozart and, especially in this set, Bach. The two dozen little gems are, of course, reminiscent of the Well-Tempered Clavier and are even more closely intertwined than the original Bach preludes around both the circle of fifths and the concept of the relative minor, a device that solidifies their natural order in the inner ear. In Mr. Orth's confident and capable hands, the experience seemed like one continuous essay in profundity.
Highlights included a lovely version of the famous A Major, a very dark reading of the E Flat Minor, a steadfast and stouthearted "raindrop," a rousing cannonade of an F Minor, and a somber but stately C Minor. Mr. Orth is adept but not flashy, ceding the spotlight to the music itself, refreshingly emphasizing the inner conflict of the composer rather than the agility of the current performer.
Interpretively, his most impressive offering was the Sonata No. 30 of Beethoven, a rendition that painstakingly delineated the Herculean struggle of the protagonist auteur with chilling results. Mr. Orth is a commanding presence and one perfectly willing to shape phrases with his own signature. Only three measures into the Beethoven, this listener was captivated.
There were certainly no rest stops on this particular musical journey, as Mr. Orth chose one of the most difficult works in the literature as his final piece. Liszt's Sonata in B Minor is not for the lily-eared, as Charles Ives used to say, and Mr. Orth spat it out full-blown, on the edge and dangerous. Some of the louder passages were a bit clangorous for my taste, but I probably would have had the same cavil had I had the opportunity to hear Liszt himself launch into this essay that is part lurid imagery and part circus act.
Suffice it to say that Mr. Orth is the master of this piece and can, at any given time, hit 98% of the notes, an especially high batting average. For sheer excitement, he is difficult to surpass.