WORKS: Piano Sonata in B minor; Petrarch Sonnets 104 & 123; Dante Sonata
PERFORMER: Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-97481-2
Don’t record companies ever get tired of recording the Liszt B minor Sonata? It is, of course, one of the greatest works in the piano repertoire, but, listening to this exceptionally fine new recording of it, one wonders whether the market can really continue to support so many interpretations.
Leonskaja’s recording, though, is one worth acquiring: her playing has tremendous power, sensitivity, a deep sense of contrast between the demonic and the angelically and heroically visionary qualities of the music, as well as a strong sense of structure. It is not an especially original interpretation, but she is far too intelligent a musician to lapse into effect for its own sake.
Her Petrarch Sonnet 104 has drama and strength, while 123 has both tragedy and compassion. The programme is rounded off with what to my ears is the best part of the disc: the Dante Sonata – an excellent choice and, to the best of my knowledge, not frequently found on a CD with the B minor. It is a really marvellous rendering, with varied and dramatic colourings flying up to the heights of Romantic ecstasy. Top-class sound quality completes the picture. Jessica Duchen