Liszt: Études d’exécution transcendante

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Études d’exécution transcendante
PERFORMER: Boris Berezovsky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-98415-2
Boris Berezovsky is a heavyweight virtuoso, but he understands the dangers of overload. He can also make something of simplicity. In the 11th study, ‘Harmonies du soir’, he draws you into his meditative frame of mind, and understands the music’s waxing magniloquence, allowing the effect to accumulate. He probably reckons that Liszt’s direction ‘il più forte possibile’ in ‘Mazeppa’ is to be taken with a pinch of salt on a modern Steinway, and so he underplays. This is the tact of a gentle giant, for it seems he can do anything, and in the finger-crippling filigree of ‘Feux follets’ he equals – even surpasses – Ashkenazy on one of his strongest points.

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The purely musical worth of the studies is variable, and No. 6, ‘Vision’, falls a long way short of its attempted sublimity. But how splendid the untitled tenth piece is in Berezovsky’s hands, while the final study, ‘Chasse-neige’, ceases to sound as if it’s composed of notes, and becomes an impalpable evocation, like a landscape by Turner. One slight niggle: the instrument is a bit harsh, especially in the treble. Adrian Jack