WORKS: Années de pèlerinage, deuxième année: Italie; Venezia e Napoli; Ballade No. 2 in B minor
PERFORMER: Angela Brownridge (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 75605 51290 2
Liszt’s B minor Sonata is one of the supreme challenges of the piano repertoire, one which separates the great pianists from the merely good. The relationship between its form and its content are so inextricably linked that woe betide any pianist who takes its virtuosity at face value. Jandó is not one such pianist. His account in the burgeoning Naxos Liszt cycle is deeply satisfying on all counts: passion, fantasy and keyboard wizardry are all there, and the effect is always profoundly musical. Tanner, too, reveals some astounding pianism, but his approach is more wilful, overdoing the rubato and expression at the expense of structural integrity. His efforts are also negated by the recording, which brings the more clangorous visions of Dante’s hell in the other main work on the disc too close for comfort. The Dante Sonata also appears in Brownridge’s recording of the Italian Année de pèlerinage; her playing is more sonorous than Tanner’s, and the other items in the cycle similarly reveal an imaginative mind at work.
Tanner’s best playing comes in his accounts of two of Liszt’s ghostly late works, while Jandó, too, gives poetic accounts of his more generous fillers – the Two Legends, and a piano transcription of the ‘Gretchen’ movement from the Faust Symphony that emerges in almost orchestral finery in his hands. Matthew Rye