WORKS: Sonata in B minor
PERFORMER: Barry Douglas (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61221-2 DDD
There are lots of recordings of Liszt’s Piano Sonata in the catalogue, but the recent deletion of Peter Donohoe’s splendid version leaves a gap which no other recent version can fill. Barry Douglas – like Donohoe, a Tchaikovsky Competition prizewinner – might have been expected to. He has a good sense of the Sonata’s form, he does not succumb to the temptation to dally in the slow bits or exaggerate drama, yet he is less powerful than expected, and just a bit cool and circumspect. This music needs no less than a massive sense of commitment.
Douglas’s fastidious thoughtfulness takes the measure of Webern’s exquisite Variations much more surely, and his elegance in Berg’s Sonata effectively underplays the music’s ripeness. Late speculative pieces by Liszt complete an interesting programme, to which the banal and inadequately informative booklet notes do a disservice. The recordings are a bit chilly and distant. Adrian Jack