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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Deux Légendes, S. 175 (1863) [16.07]
Consolations, S. 172 (1850) [18.11]
Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H S. 529 (1870) [11.25]
Ballade No. 2 in B, S. 171 (1853) [12.46]
Valse oubliée No. 1 in F#, S. 215 (1885) [3.07]
Impromptu in F#, S. 191 (1872) [3.14]
Lilya Zilberstein (piano)
Recorded Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, March 1995
Notes in English

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Comparison Recordings:

Deux Légendes, Ballade No. 2, Ervin Nyiregyházi. Telefunken LP

Fantasie and Fugue B-A-C-H, György Cziffra, Philips LP

Thanks to his enormous experience performing for widely varied audiences, Liszt developed abilities virtually no other musician has ever possessed. He could contrast, in the same piece, sentimentality with true feeling, and banality with true grandeur. These are boundaries even Bach and Mozart rarely explored, and Berlioz approached them at his peril. Those who misunderstand Liszt condemn him for being unable to avoid banality and sentimentality, when the truth is he made effective expressive tools of these qualities. A hundred and twenty years after his death we are only now encompassing the totality of his artistic legacy, and now there are many performing artists who can effectively present his compositions.

Lilya Zilberstein (or, to use the Russian transliterated spelling, Liliya Zilberstayn) was born in Moscow in 1965, studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Alexander Satz who in turn had studied in Moscow with Leonid Brumberg, a pupil of the legendary Heinrich Neuhaus. She won first prize at the 39th Busoni International Piano Competition, 1987 and has, from the beginning of her career, distinguished herself in the large and dynamic piano repertoire. Her recordings have been made with Deutsche Grammophon and include the Second and Third  Piano Concertos by Rachmaninov with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado and the Grieg concerto with Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony.

In a recent review of another pianist playing Liszt, I pointed out that one really good performance on a Liszt piano disk is a really good show, two is exceptional, and three is astounding. By that standard, this disk is astounding. The Consolations, particularly 3 and 6, are very fine. Zilberstein’s large tone is here coupled with persuasive musicianship and excellent recording. The result is galvanising, as in the Fantasie and Fugue on B-A-C-H - one of the best versions I’ve ever heard. Her Ballade No 2 and Deux Légendes can’t compare with Nyiregyhazi, but those old recordings are probably impossible to get now. Zilberstein is awfully good and receives magnificent recorded sound; absolutely essential in this repertoire.

Paul Shoemaker







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