Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Sonata in b, S178 (1853) [33.02]
Tre Sonetti del Petrarca, S158 (1846): Sonetto 47 [7.46]; Sonetto 104 [7.04]; Sonetto 123 [8.06]
Deux Legendes, S175 (1863): St. François d’Assise: La predication aux oiseaux [10.33]; St. François de Paule marchant sur let flots [8.45]
Artur Pizarro, piano
Previously released in 1993 on Collins Classics as 1357-2


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Bryce Morrison writing in Gramophone (2/93) regarding the original release of this performance on Collins Classics (complete with liner notes now completely absent) praised with reservations and I would second that opinion overall. Morrison seemed to think the best performance on the disk was the Sonetto 123, but I think the best selection is the St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots. Here Pizarro achieves real power, majesty and mystery. But I agree with Morrison that the recording of the Sonata in b does not seriously approach the best versions available either in fidelity to the score or in drama. Morrison mentioned some departures from the score in the Sonata, but omitted to mention the many staccato note passages that were played tenuto. Recorded sound is excellent, however, especially in capturing the growling resonant bass notes.

It seems that Pizarro is trying to recreate the 19th century style of extravagantly romantic piano playing, of which Liszt was certainly a part if not the sole progenitor. He has got some of it down well, especially the loud parts. But Pizarro lacks mastery of the quieter, more fragile music, the crystalline, sweet, bell-like mp staccato tones essential to the Liszt style, especially the Sonetti, more especially the Jeux d’eau de la Villa d’Este. Morrison and I both would cite Kempff as the example of what Pizarro should be working towards. Pizarro was 25 when this disk was released. There is a youthfulness to Pizarro’s approach which is hardly inauthentic; perhaps there are just some things that only experience can teach.

Persons seeking a single great recording of the Sonata in b have many to choose from. I recommend Clifford Curzon on Decca; it is a firm, brilliant, masculine account which stresses the logical and dramatic aspects of the work, a performance that would not put Brahms to sleep. Meantime, Liszt specialists will want this Pizarro disk for the S175b and as a record of work-in-progress which could someday produce the truly exceptional.

Paul Shoemaker

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