Liszt: Années de pèlerinage (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Lyrinx
WORKS: Années de pèlerinage (complete)
PERFORMER: Mûza Rubackyté (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: LYR 2216
The pieces encompassing all three books of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage reveal the composer in all of his guises: swashbuckling virtuoso, bardic narrator, lyric poet, brooding mystic and cryptic experimenter. Not many pianists do equal justice to all these characteristics, but Mûza Rubackyté has mastered and internalised these scores to a transcendent level, giving the recorded competition a run for its money, including long-regarded complete accounts by Lazar Berman (DG) and Aldo Ciccolini (EMI). Her generally brisk tempi never sacrifice tonal opulence for speed. The difficult octave passages, for instance, in ‘Orage’, ‘Vallée d’Obermann’ and the ‘Dante Sonata’, plus the Tarantella’s notorious repeated notes, are effortlessly coaxed from the keyboard rather than banged out. ‘Au bord d’une source’, the ‘Canzonetta’ and the Petrarch triptych boast uncommon rhythmic point, while Book 3’s starker pages emerge more sustained and texturally enlivened than usual. And the waters of the Villa d’Este’s famous fountain shimmer and dance by way of Rubackyté’s variegated touch. What is more, Rubackyté serves up a wide gamut of colour and nuance, displaying remarkably liquid fluidity considering how sparely she uses the sustaining pedal. She’s no less discreet deploying rubato: when it occurs, it’s always to make a point. The multi-channel production conveys warmth and intimacy together with a realistic sound-stage. Standard stereo playback, however, loses nothing in terms of presence and immediacy. In sum, Rubackyté’s Années de pèlerinage rises to the top of this cycle’s short list. Jed Distler

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