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Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Fantasy in C, D760, 'Wanderer' (1822) [20'48].
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Années de pèlerinage: Deuxième année, Italie (1839-49) – Sonetto 123 del Petrarca; Après une lecture de Dante [17'02]; Supplement: Venezia e Napoli (1840, rev. 1859) [19'09]. Années de pèlerinage: Troisième année (1869-79) – Les jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este [9'01].
Luiza Borac (piano)
Rec. at the Stadttheater, Lindau (Bodensee), Germany on August 2nd-6th, 2004.
AVIE AV2061 [66:04]


Luiza Borac's disc of Enescu (AV0013) caused quite a critical stir. Here is another disc, this time linking Schubert and Liszt under the umbrella of 'Wanderer'. Unfortunately I have not heard the Enescu all the way through, but from the present evidence Borac is an extremely gifted player of no mean technique.

Avie's presentation is excellent. The booklet includes informed notes by Stephen Pettitt as well as the reproduction, with translations, of the texts of Wanderer (used for Schubert's D493) and the Petrarch Sonnet No. 123. Both point towards more care than is the norm from most other companies in this area.

The Wanderer Fantasy is well-trodden territory. The recording needs more depth at higher dynamic levels yet it is nicely rounded elsewhere on the dynamic spectrum. Borac is arresting, right from the start, pacing well and with good articulation. It is her slow movement that is most successful. Daringly slow and distinctly grief-laden, this is interior Schubert playing as it should be. The Scherzo has a nice rhythmic bounce, while the fast finale is actually fairly jubilant. The real rhythmic impetus prevents it from being mere show.

The Petrarch Sonnet 123 comes across as nicely dreamy without losing any definition. Borac's filigree is simply lovely and her interpretation exudes repose; her right-hand legato really sings.

The Dante Sonata is an even more daunting proposition than the Wanderer Fantasy. Once again Borac's opening is there to grab you, and once more her attack is commendably clean. This is exciting playing, even if it does not quite lead one to the gates of Hell. Borac emphasises the lyric here, although that should not suggest that this is in any sense a technique-determined decision. There is much magic here, and I was particularly impressed by her octave 'recitatives' (c. 9'35).

The terrifying difficulties of Venezia e Napoli seem tamed here, as Borac revels in the almost nostalgic elements. The first piece ('Gondoliera') has the melody emerging naturally from its watery surroundings. Borac brings out the simplicity of the melody. The 'Canzone’ is pure Liszt in the declamatory fragments against tremolandi; the finale (full ten minutes long) is Lisztian activity at its most typical and also at its greatest. Borac captures the cascades versus chordal replies passage simply beautifully, imbuing the whole with a liquid flow, and rising naturally to the climax.

Finally, more water in the form of the fountains at the Villa d'Este. I have to confess that sometimes I think this is a better piece than Ravel's better-known Jeux d'eau. Liszt's work embodies the very essence of this more delicate side of his persona; the other side emerges in pieces like the Dante Sonata. Borac is intensely musical; there's just a touch of awkwardness in left-hand trills, but that aside this is memorable playing.

An interesting disc, then. Borac is a player of much imagination and integrity.

Colin Clarke

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