The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors
November/December 1991
Volumne 15, Number 2

Presenting Eduardus Halim
A Program of Piano Transcriptions, Eduardus Halim, piano.

ARABESQUE Z6615 [DDD]; 56:42. Produced by Ward Botsford.
BACH-BUSONI:  Choral Preludes: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr; Nun komm' der Heiden Heiland; Nun freut euch, Neben Christen.  CHOPIN-LISSZT:  Six chants polonaise, S. 480:  No. 1, Mādchens Wǔnsch; No. 5, Meine Freuden.  WAGNER-LISZT:  Isoldens Liebestod, S. 447.  GOUNOD-LISZT:  Valse de Faust, S. 407.  TCHAIKOVSKY-RACHMANINOV:  Lullaby.  KREISLER-RACHMANINOV:  Liebesleid.  STRAUSS-GODOWSKI:  Kűnstlerleben.

"Schnabel, you are acquiring a face," the pianist was told, visiting Busoni on his deathbed.  "I was then in my forties!" was Schnabel's wry gloss.  From today's legion of brilliant, extensively educated, and formidably equipped musicians, this debut recording by Indonesian pianist Eduardus Halim (b. 1961) exhibits, to say the least, an engaging profile, best characterized as exuberant.  And, as Blake has it, "Exuberance is beauty."  Winged by an effortless technique, Halim is relaxed, spontaneous, almost casual in this superhumanly demanding fare.  If the opening choral preludes are unduly solemn – though never slack – and there is some uncertainty about ornamentation, the fleet ease of "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen" rivals Busoni's own (Pearl Gemm CD 9347, Fanfare 13:3).  The Liebestod seems aerated – reserving his thunder for climactic moments, Halim's reading possesses an unaacustomed lightness and buoyancy in which Isolde's delusive rapture is, for once, naturalized to the piano.  And if Liszt's direction for molto tranquillo (from m. 16/1:26) is over-ridden in suave ēlan, one applauds – the sequential repetition with which this passage usually sags is woven into a seamlessly ecstatic arch with sure narrative instinct.  Lacing into the Faust Waltz with bass-exploding gusto, Halim swings the kermesse music from mimickry of rustic merriment to scintillant arabesques, framing Faust's frank ardor for Marguerite with the flamboyance of the born raconteur.  In winning contrast to the latter-day norm of facelessly correct proficiency, a genial, even impish, personality peeks everywhere through this delectable program.  And if dynamic extremes are occasionally exaggerated, or the teasing – as in the notably quirky Kűnstlerleben – proves frosting on an already overrich cake, they merely confirm that the lements of a grand artistry, in heady effervescence, are abundantly present.  Indeed, the mature artist seems to have been caught at the moment of emergence from prestidigital pizzazz into fantasy and color.  Eduardus Halim is acquiring a face.  Recorded with a margin of breathing space, sound is warmly immediate.  Enthusiastically recommended!