Transcendental Études; La leggierezza; Consolation
Alim Beisembayev (piano)
Warner Classics 5419729645 77:30 mins
The Leeds International Piano Competition winner in Autumn 2021 was hailed as a worthy prizewinner all round. Now 24, the UK-trained Kazakh pianist, Alim Beisembayev, has turned his considerable energies to the mind-boggling virtuosity required in Liszt’s 12 Études d’exécution transcendante. If he doesn’t quite make them sound as easy as pie, he certainly delivers them with beguiling nonchalance, a gleaming touch and unflappable clarity, aided and abetted by superb recorded sound.
Cool, calm and collected, he does not shrink from making these giant studies – or small tone-poems – sound fun; there’s the musical equivalent of a glint in the eye about ‘Feux follets’ and even a teasing swagger to ‘Eroica’. He is nevertheless at his best in the most poetic pieces, singing and soaring through the sheer gorgeousness of ‘Harmonies du Soir’ and the tender ‘Paysage’, while ‘Chasse-neige’, the final piece, is suitably chilling; and there’s some breathtakingly beautiful pacing and phrasing – the declamatory first part of ‘Ricordanza’ is a case in point.
At times, some extra devil-may-care heat would perhaps not go amiss. The hair-raising ‘Mazeppa’ could possibly sound still more terrifying. The most beautiful thing of all is saved til last. It’s the Consolation No. 3, played with an inward intensity that seems to open up his soul to the full.