More Recording Reviews

On Music by Albéniz, Mendelssohn, and Chopin:


From the very first notes, the aptly named Evocacion, the opening section itself of Iberia, atmospherically conjures up the lazy, hazy landscapes of sun-soaked Spain, which Bengtson paints with graphic brilliance.  …Triana begins deceptively straightforwardly, but soon the swirling notes and polyrhythms begin to pile pressure on the pianist – yet Bengtson does not even break into a sweat. … There are 17 short variations in [the Mendelssohn], many requiring a heroic attention to dense detail and fingers that move close to the speed of light – Bengtson has both of these. A breathtaking work, and an excellent account of it. … The rousing, spectacularly virtuosic Finale [of the Chopin Sonata] is particularly superbly played by Bengtson, without the merest hint of trepidation. (.. Byzantion, in MusicWeb International)   See the whole review

Bengtson plays in a warm, lyrical, elegant style, closely allied to that of the French school, and his performances will certainly not disappoint anyone familiar or unfamiliar with these works, … He is certainly an artist to watch … I have no qualms in recommending this CD to hear a new and interesting piano voice. Bengtson’s phrasing is exceptional; the Albéniz pieces, in particular, are extremely good, having a warm, almost exotic quality that I find quite hypnotic. Bengtson is one of those pianists whose technique, though considerable, is not of the type that draws attention to itself, but to the music. (.. Lynn René Bayley, in Fanfare, 34:5, May/June 2011)

It’s been six years since ARG critic Lawrence Budmen wondered where this wonderful surprise of a pianist came from (July/Aug 2005). I’ll second that notion! I must say I didn’t expect much when I cracked the plastic on this unassuming package from Romeo Records. I certainly didn’t expect the music to sound as deep, beautiful, natural, and nuanced as this. One of the things I like best about Bengtson’s playing is his varied color palette. For the Albeniz he defaults to a warm, mellow tone, which is activated by deft, rhythmic pulses in the bass register. At a moment’s notice, though, he can shift to silvery bright tones. … Another significant plus is his rhythmic sensibility, which does full justice to the Spanish rhythms that supply a backbone for this music. One more strong attribute worth mentioning is his contrapuntal control. There is a rich multilayered sound to the Mendelssohn Variations, where we get the clear sense that the melody is doing one thing, the middle voice another, and the punctuating bass yet another. This, along with the occasional bonus touch .. puts this account of op. 54 over all the others I’ve ever heard, including Brendel’s.
(.. Brent Auerbach, in American Record Guide May/June 2011)

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On Curt Cacioppo’s Italia:


The music is quite adroit and is expertly rendered by pianist Matthew Bengtson. (Huntley Dent, in Fanfare 44:5, May/June 2021)

On the Road of the Seven Bridges .. an eight-section work for solo piano .. is played with great deliacy and insight by Matthew Bengtson. (Peter Burwasser, in Fanfare 44:5, May/June 2021)

All credit to pianist Matthew Bengtson’s performance, a reading not only of sensitivity but also of true understanding. (Colin Clarke, in Fanfare, 44:5, May/June 2021)

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On Roberto Sierra: Works for Cello and Piano:


Pianist Matthew Bengtson plays with true command of his instrument, a brilliant rhythmic sense, and a true sense of chamber music with his partner; every subtlety is superbly rendered by the fine recording.

Colin Clarke, in Fanfare, 41:5, May/June 2018)

The performances throughout are committed and technically accomplished, all a composer could ask for.

Henry Fogel, in Fanfare, 41:5, May/June 2018)

Masterful works, performed in equally masterful fashion by Haines-Eitzen and Bengtson.

David DeBoor Canfield, in Fanfare, 41:5, May/June 2018)

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On Jan Krzywicki’s Alchemy:


Alchemy for solo piano is perhaps my favorite track. Krzywicki’s intuition for piano sonorities pulls out dissonances that are coherent
and naturally expressive rather than sounding like some stereotypical dissonant serialist piano writing. He uses the full range of the
instrument, from chiming highs, booming lows, ferocious rolled chords, to playing on the strings. Pianist Matthew Bengtson captures the
explosive moments of the composition well, and his use of expressive timing makes the notes really tell a story. (.. David Pearson, in “I care if you listen” Dec 28, 2011)

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