Liszt poured a wealth of ingenuity and an astonishing degree of diversity into works for piano. EMI Classics' exclusive 10-CD set of Liszt's greatest piano works features keyboard virtuosi from generations past and present including Leif Ove Andsnes, Aldo Ciccolini, Georges Cziffra and Lionel Rogg.
Most of this disc is taken up with Liszt's Christmas Tree, an unusually modest suite based on Christmas carols. It also offers charming pieces by Reger, Tchaikovsky, Rebikov, and Lyapunov based on Christmas themes, and a couple of Bach transcriptions. Eteri Andjaparidze, whose first CD was a sensational Prokofiev collection, plays this music truly superb musicianship and the kind of pianistic color that has become a rarity. Her Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most beautiful I've heard since Dinu Lipatti's. And wait until you hear her delightful playing of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride! It's deliciously witty and charming.
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.
In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this Otello, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer. And, as one recalls from performances at the Met six months after this one, Gobbi was able to imbue the character with a youthful, amicable persona that made Iago's vile deeds all the more chilling. This video also confirms the recollection that this role, even in late career, was one the great singing actor found vocally congenial. There is a lightness of delivery that makes Iago's Act I drinking song and Act III duet with Cassio particularly stunning. Textual and tonal colors are employed in a manner that feels inevitable rather than applied, and Iago's "Credo" might as well have been written for Gobbi, so perfectly does it suit his gifts. All in all, this is a dazzling performance.