Li plays with a rare combination of virtuoso skill & poetic interpretations, each note he plays a reminder of why, in 2000, his music inspired the jury of the 14th International Chopin Piano Competition to give out the 1st top prize in 15 years to the then 18-year-old boy . . . “His maturity is obvious from the arrangements of the rhythmic transitions to the superb control of strength variations, which is known as the most difficult part of Chopin’s compositions”, (notes director Zhang Guoyong, who conducted the concert.) “It won’t be long before he is a maestro,” Zhang predicts.
Leslie Howard's recordings of Liszt s complete piano music, on 99 CDs, is one of the monumental achievements in the history of recorded music. Remarkable as much for its musicological research and scholarly rigour as for Howard's Herculean piano playing, this survey remains invaluable to serious lovers of Liszt. Every known note of Liszt's piano music has been recorded and is included here: Leslie Howard's 57 original volumes plus the further 3 supplements. GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the world s largest recording series by a solo artist.
Of all the composers Claudio Arrau recorded extensively, Liszt was perhaps the most central, the most essential and the most personal. Trained as a youth in prewar Berlin by a Liszt pupil, Arrau's commanding virtuosity and compelling authority is clearly a continuation of the grand Romantic manner in general and of Liszt in particular and on these six discs are dozens of performances that speak with the power of tradition infused with strength of true belief. From the glittering cascades of Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este to the harrowing sonorities of Gnomenreigen and from the radiant arpeggios of Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude to the hushed intimacy of Liebestraum, Arrau knows Liszt's music with the fervor of a prophet and the passion of a lover. While it's true Arrau was in his seventies and eighties when he made these recordings and that time had mellowed his virtuosity, it's also true that time had matured his interpretations. Some listeners may prefer their Liszt players more vigorous, but few could ask for a more sensuous Liszt player. Including two performances of Liszt's Sonata in B minor, one an almost youthfully ardent recording from 1970 and the other a slower but more penetrating recording from 1985, provides a wonderful way to compare Arrau's approach to the composer's masterpiece. Philips' stereo sound is so realistic one can sometimes hear the pianist shift on the bench.
In this live 1973 performance from Japan, Scotto is parthnered by one of the great tenors of our time, José Carreras, then at the start of his international career. The distinguished baritone Sesto Bruscantini is a formidable Germont who sings an exceptionally moving rendition of the famous aria "Di Provenza il mar".
Liszt’s Dante Symphony is a work of astonishing imagination. His evocation of the ‘Inferno’, the shade of Francesca da Rimini and her sad remembered love is marked by strokes of genius which, with bewildering frequency, pre-empt the mature Wagner (who was, incidentally, the dedicatee of the work). If the second and third movements – the ‘Paradiso’ was wisely commuted to a setting of part of the Magnificat plus a brief Hosanna – don’t quite match the sweep and control of the first, they have their own particular magic. Even so, the work has not acquired the popularity of the Faust Symphony. Barenboim’s new recording with the Berlin Philharmonic is thus particularly welcome. Not only does it augment the number of available recordings to four, it is also the most polished. Even performing ‘live’, the Berlin Philharmonic turns in a performance of near-perfection – the solo lines are a particular joy.
This new Traviata belongs near the top of the fine recorded versions of the opera despite a serious vocal problem in the middle. The great news is in the casting of the two lovers: Rolando Villazon's Alfredo is just about perfect. He sings with handsome, shaded tone, great attention to the text–his anger feels as real as his grief and passion–and absolute freedom throughout the range.