Friday, 26 August 2011

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, August 2011)

LISZT Harmonies du soir
Decca 478 2728 / *****

This recital of piano music by Franz Liszt runs for under an hour, but every minute is well spent. Brazilian virtuoso Nelson Freire deliberate eschews outright fireworks and goes for the poetic. There are neither vulgar operatic fantasies nor showboating transcriptions, and the most overt display comes in the brooding Second Ballade in B minor which portends “tragedy on an epic scale”, and the ecstatic chords of the penultimate Transcendental Etude, Harmonies du soir (Evening Harmonies). These performances highlight Liszt’s much underrated greatness.

Of the much vaunted Hungarian Rhapsodies, Freire picks one of the shortest, the Third, contrasting lugubriousness with shimmering tinkles of the Hungarian cimbalom (dulcimer). The Six Consolations, hardly Liszt’s most flashy of cycles, find a sympathetic interpreter who fleshes out its genteel spirituality. Those hankering for some of Liszt’s scintillating fingerwork will relish moments in the concert etude Waldesrauschen (Forest Murmurs), Valse Oubliee No.1 and Petrarch Sonnet No.104, and Freire duly obliges.

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