The biggest work on this disc is the amazing Fantasie, Op. 17 of Schumann which was, as far as I know, not any sort of 'Homage to Brahms' as the CD's title suggests. But it's a masterful piece of music, possibly Schumann's best piano work, and it pains me to say that Ignacy Lisiecki's performance of it is a desecration. If it weren't for the modern sounding recorded sound -- and more about that in a moment* -- I might have been tempted to think this was a performance by that bad boy of pianism of yesteryear, Vladimir de Pachmann. The willfulness and downright misplaying of the music is barely tolerable to my ears. There is such pushing and pulling of the tempi, sometimes rushing here, sometimes slowing down to a crawl there that one gets seasick. It is clear that Lisiecki has technique sufficient to play the work as it should be played, although there are occasional smudged passages. Further he tends to bang in the loud passages rather than get deeply into the keys to render a thunderous but musical sound. His legato is tenuous and sometimes simply lacking. And when we get to the 'lento sostenuto - sempre piano' third movement it is neither lento sostenuto nor sempre piano; this delicate and deeply felt movement roars as if it were the typical allegro final movement of a sonata which it decidedly is not.
The miniatures, Schumann's Romance Op. 28, No. 2, Brahms's Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2 from Op. 79, as well as Lisiecki's own 'Fantasy on a Theme from the (organ) Chorale Prelude of Brahms, Op. 122, No. 2, suffer from much the same treatment.
Understand, I do not gainsay an artist's right to put his own stamp on a piece. In fact, one almost demands it. But the wild and willful depredations of this young pianist in these works is a disgrace.
*The recorded sound is clattery and downright ugly at times. Part of that is, of course, due to the pianist, but much of it is surely due to the engineering from Dux.