Années de pèlerinage, 3ème année; Bagatelle sans tonalité; Wiegenlied (Chant du berceau); Vierter Mephisto-Waltzer; La Lugubre Gondola II, etc
Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
Hyperion CDA 68202 80:15 mins
In the final decades of his life, Liszt abandoned much of his signature virtuosity for a deeply spiritual, improvisatory style, unmoored from traditional harmonies and forms. These often substantial, relatively unknown works require patience, but offer great rewards, especially in this mesmerising performance. The recital balances six late works with the seven vast pieces which constitute the third and final volume of the Années de pèlerinage. There are many discoveries, such as the Wiegenlied, which was only published in the 1950s. Tiberghien brings the tenderest, most delicate and exploratory touch to this fragile work. Equally wondrous is the dreamlike La lugubre gondola, written in response to the death of Liszt’s son-in-law Wagner. This music disorients us; one piece elides into the next, and time stops.
Tiberghien’s quasi-improvisatory approach works marvellously with works which would otherwise risk sounding directionless and self-indulgent. His range is breathtaking, carefully terraced even in the thickest of textures, never harsh, abrupt, metronomic or bombastic, even when rumbling in the murkiest depths of the piano’s range. Liszt himself recognised that his final Années de pèlerinage were not crowd-pleasers. The only lollipop is the much-loved ‘Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este’, rendered here with a deliciously bubbly, watery touch. But this most introspective Liszt reveals a profundity which attains the immersive reflective quality of abstract poetry or painting.