Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody

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COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Orchid
WORKS: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10 in E; Ballade No. 2 in B minor; Sonata in B minor; Schumann (transcr. Liszt): Liebeslied (Widmung); Schubert (transcr. Liszt): Gretchen am Spinnrade
PERFORMER: Nino Gvetadze (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 100017

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The Liszt bicentenary is bringing forth a number of notable recordings, and here is another. Nino Gvetadze is a young Georgian pianist, now based in Holland, who has won several awards, deservedly so on this evidence. In music that so many pianists play merely for thrills and bravura, she proves a thoughtful artist with a wonderfully flexible sense of line and tempo. The Schumann transcription, Widmung, that gives the disc its title, and the arrangement of Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade, are perfectly judged.

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In the grander designs of the B minor Sonata and the Ballade in the same key, Gvetadze has all the necessary technical equipment to give the big moments their full impact – thrillingly so; and yet there’s always a sense of a musing, meditative intelligence exploring their layers of meaning in the very act of playing, as if she is spontaneously creating the music under her fingers. Her very wide range of colour, always sensitively and appropriately applied, subtle pedalling and a beautifully intuitive, almost Paderewskian sense of rubato make these interpretations very special, while Orchid Classics’s sound is as flawless as her playing. There are greater performances, no question. But these have a magic of their own. Calum MacDonald