American Record Guide

January/February 2004



Granados:  Goyescas:  Poetic Waltzes
Eduardus Halim, p
Reservoir 81292 – 68 minutes (914-332-3007)

Halim is an Indonesican of Chinese extraction who has been given a Muslim name.  In 1980, at age 19, he entered the Juilliard School as a pupil of Sascha Gorodnitzky.  Further studies with Rudolf Firkusny led to ARG's own Harold Schonberg writing a letter to Vladimir Horowitz about this impressive young man.  In Schonberg's biography Horowitz, His Life and Music, he even has a chapter titled 'Last Pupil' where he relates the mentor-student relationship between the legendary pianist and Halim.

So, After all this, how good is Eduardus Halim?  In the Goyescas and Valses Poeticos, absolutely magnificent!  These performances seem to hit all the correct buttons, and the listener is swept along in the colors and rhythms of Spian.  It seems a pity that the opera Goyescas which uses much of the music from the piano suite, has never caught on with the public.  Listeners are urged to acquaint themselves with the opera.

Inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya, the suite bears the subtitle Los Majos Enamorados (the Dashing Lovers).  It is in six movements in two books.  The first piece, 'Endearments', is marked to be played "with grace and eloquence".  That sets the tone for the entire work – and can easily spell disaster for hands and minds not in sympathy with the composer's intentions.  The remaining movements go extremely well.  Halim's only real competition is from Alicia De Larrocha (Decca), Christina Ortiz, and Thomas Rajna.  But I have no hesitancy in placing Halim at the top of the list, after listening to the others again.

In the Valses Poeticos, Halim continues to amaze by the rightness of his inflections and the subtlety of his rich sound palette.  The notes, prepared by the renowned Frank Cooper, can serve as a model for both informative and perceptive writing.  To these many qualities is added the excellent sound, both forward and atmospheric.  This deserves a standing ovation.