Liszt, Chopin, Ravel

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COMPOSERS: Chopin,Liszt,Ravel
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Terence Judd Homage I
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B minor; Sposalizio; La campanella; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11; Nocturne, Op. 32/1; Étude, Op. 25/11; Noctuelles; A Musical Snuffbox
PERFORMER: Terence Judd (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10004 ADD Reissue (1977, 1978)
Centring on the Liszt Sonata, this collection of performances taken from the 1978 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition and London recitals of the same and previous year affirms the already prodigious musicianship and astonishing technical gifts of the much-lamented Terence Judd (1957-79). Eschewing facile solutions to interpretative and pianistic problems in the Sonata, Judd presents the work as taut and exceptionally lucid in a reading of almost precariously high voltage. His bracing articulacy and warm, liquid legato alternate in passages of seething, tactile bravura and intimate musing, while his natural feel for musical tension sustains lines over both the short and long haul. Only a couple of memory lapses – testament to the harsh pressures of the Competition – break the spell. Liszt’s shorter works also come to life vividly in Judd’s hands: Sposalizio is intense and prophetic, while La campanella (surely one of the most exciting and brilliant versions on record) and the 11th Hungarian Rhapsody bristle with élan.

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Judd’s Chopin is dramatic and brooding, even menacing: no swooning for him in the Nocturne Op. 32/1, which instead features heightened contrasts and a coda of desolate intensity. The teeming articulation of the ‘Winter Wind’ Étude, Op. 25/11, evokes the bleakest of landscapes, the end-point coming not with the final As but the three beats of perilous silence that follow them. In Ravel’s Noctuelles and Lyadov’s Musical Snuffbox, Judd superbly demonstrates his mastery of mood and colour.

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Warmly recommended, despite variable sound quality that inevitably reflects the different sources from which these recordings were taken. Michael Glover