Sam Haywood / Steven Isserlis JULIUS ISSERLIS Piano Music
After being awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Julius Isserlis scholarship, pianist Sam Haywood became friends with Julius’s grandson, the cellist Steven, and chanced to discover manuscripts of some of Julius’s piano compositions. Hence, with the additional ballast of Julius’s sweetly resonant Ballade in a A minor for cello and piano, this CD. It makes for a delightful hour.
If the echoes of Chopin, Rachmaninov, and—in one striking instance—Stravinsky’s Petrushka are loud and clear in these short and often simple character-pieces, that merely reminds us of how those composers were at the centre of Julius’s musical world. His is salon music in the best sense of the word, reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s pieces d'occasion (if not with their magic). Haywood’s rubato is delicate and his touch pliantly expressive; when virtuosity is required, he delivers it comfortably, but for the most part he just lets the music's artless charm speak for itself. (BBC Music Magazine)