Liszt: Alexei Gynyuk

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Liszt: Alexei Gynyuk
WORKS: Sonata in B minor; Mephisto Waltz No. 1; Sonetti del Petrarca from Annés de pèlerinage – deuxième année: Italie; Etude No. 3 ‘La campanella’ from Grandes études de Paganini
PERFORMER: Alexei Grynyuk
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 100031

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‘One must not imprint on music a balanced uniformity, but kindle it, or slow it down, according to its meaning’, said Liszt. This, of course, begs the question of how a pianist discovers that meaning, always assuming there is indeed one single meaning, rather than several. (For the listener, I would suggest it comes down to whether a performance produces smiles of pleasure or sighs of irritation.) In this instance, all I can say is that Grynyuk’s rhythmic practices seem to spring unaided from the musical discourse: extended note values are justified by dreamy textures, while sharp contrasts spring from the demonic Liszt’s love of surprise.

Two features are paramount in this marvellous recital: a feeling for form, and some of the most sheerly beautiful piano tone I’ve heard in a long while (for which producer Andrew Keener and recording engineer Phil Rowlands may take their share of praise). As an instance of formal understanding, the opening downward scale of the Sonata is rhythmically loose at this first appearance, but when it returns at the end of the work, it’s more controlled, now rethought in the light of what the Sonata has had to say. Add to this a supreme technical virtuosity, not least in Grynyuk’s multiple shades of dynamics between p and ppp, and we find here an artist to rank with the very best. His performance of La campanella is not only breathtaking in its control but imbued with elegance and a huge sense of fun.

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Roger Nichols