I just got back from an Arnaldo Cohen concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. IMO he's not as famous as he should be. If you don't know him, you should buy his Liszt CD, which is #1 in the Naxos complete Liszt collection. It includes the best solo versions of Totentanz and Danse Macabre I know, as well as a very convincing Hugonots fantasy and some well done late Liszt.
Anyway, the program was:
Bach Partita No. 1 in B-flat
Liszt Consolation No. 3
Arnaldo is a no-nonsense player, with a straightforward virtuoso technique, and a serious demeanor, without being the slightest bit pompous. He played the Bach extremely well and interestingly, with quick delicate ornaments and a frequently detached left hand, not unlike Glenn Gould, but not quite as brilliant or mannered. I had only slept 5 hours the night before, and unfortunately I drifted a little during the Pathetique. It was well played, but not anything out of the ordinary, although it and all of the other pieces seemed to lack a little in the bass register. I did have some interesting dream states where I was playing through with my fingers to his music. Tisk tisk though, I was in the front row, dead in front of the keyboard:o The Chaconne was very solidly played, but nothing exceptional. He took some pianistically indulgent liberties in a few places that I didn't prefer, but hey, I'll criticize when I can play the piece. Finally, the Liszt Sonata was very good. The last two minutes were exceptional. The drama and tension he held had me literally holding my breath and slightly quivering. There were some good moments earlier in the sonata as well, although again, it was lacking both in bass sonority and general sound level in forte passages. A friend of mine told me the piano he was using wasn't the best, and in fact has a rather ugly bass section, so he may have been holding back to avoid that. He's a very "real" pianist. There's nothing about his demeanor that says anything overly theatrical or grandiose. He was simply dressed in black slacks and a black long sleeve shirt. He hums along to himself during especially intense sections, and his overall demeanor is simply that of a regular guy who really loves playing music. We gave him a partial standing ovation, and after 3 curtain calls, he sat down for an encore. He gave a bewildered look for a moment, as if to say "what can I play after that" eliciting giggles from the crowd. The Consolation was very sensitive, and was a fitting follow-up to the Sonata. Finally, in the spirit of good fun, he played the Brago Corrupio, which sounds sort of like a cross between a Moszkowsky Etude and the Minute Waltz, with a tiny bit of modern harmony thrown in. In fact, he told me after the performance that it was actually based on the Minute Waltz, so the familiar chord patterns I thought I heard were really there:) I complemented him on his playing, and especially singled out the last couple minutes of the Sonata as being fantastic. He momentarily counted backwards, then jokingly said "OK, now I know what I still need to practice." LOL. Oops - backhanded complement unintended:)