Liszt: Funérailles; Ballade No. 2; Sposalizio; Petrarch Sonnet No. 123; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Funérailles; Ballade No. 2; Sposalizio; Petrarch Sonnet No. 123; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6
PERFORMER: Vladimir Bunin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 98.183
One thing you can rely on with any pianist schooled in the Russian tradition is a virtuoso technique, and Bunin certainly has that. Not just in the keyboard fireworks department but also (and still more impressively) in the realm of tone control – something which often relies almost as much on the feet as on the fingers. At every dynamic level the sound here is beautiful, and the balance of voices deftly judged. This is an artist who loves his instrument – and the recording team has done him proud. But for me, there’s one vital aspect of technique that is frequently neglected by otherwise superlatively equipped pianists, and it’s the most fundamental of them all. Students are frequently encouraged to practise with one hand at a time as an aid to learning. There are many successful virtuosi, however, who should be encouraged to practise one voice – one finger – at a time, starting with the principal melody. Only when they’ve completely mastered the continuity of line and subtlety of inflection which one rightly expects from the human voice should they get down to the nuts and bolts of piano playing. It’s in this department only that I find Bunin’s playing here frustrating, and then only intermittently. Jeremy Siepmann

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