plays these interpretatively difficult
works with a huge amount of assurance.
Late Liszt is notoriously tricky – not
for the notes themselves, but for what
lies beneath them. Bavouzet takes a
selection of works from the late period,
mixing in some of the more nocturnal
earlier ones as well as weaving in some
Tristan, a stroke that makes
the Wagner-Liszt connection explicit.
Night, death and love-in-death interact
to make for a memorable listening experience.
How refreshing it is to have a disc
that forces one to think, to reflect
and, above all, to make an effort in
the listening process. For all of this,
Bavouzt is to be congratulated.
His pianism is fine,
too. His Harmonic Classic disc of solo
works by Schumann is a fine one (Opp.
14-16). Now here on Dabringhaus he brings
his fine technique and intellect to
Liszt. The title, 'Hymn to the night',
is taken from the second work in the
programme. Bavouzet explores Liszt's
various reactions to the concept of
night, from Cradle Song to insomnia
(Schlaflos), from Funeral March
to the nocturne, En rêve.
The recital begins
with the short Invocation. Yet
within its three minutes it contains
a huge amount of power, and Bavouzet
is Bolet-like in his depth of tone.
Based on the eternal voice of the soul,
Bavouzet's depth of interpretative response
sets the tone for the rest of the disc.
We hear both of the S173a Hymns,
but separated by six other works. The
Hymne à la nuit depicts
the close of day shorouded in the Divine.
Bavouzet exhibits a wonderful pianissimo
and great delicacy (a joy to hear chordal
work so together). The Wiegenlied's
hyper-delicacy represents one aspect
of sleep – Schlaflos, of course,
another, with its characteristic late-Lisztian
single lines so full of meaing and its
disturbing, restless harmonies.
In complete contrast
comes the extended Grosses Konzertsolo.
This work also exists in a two piano
version as Concerto pathéique
(interestingly, Mark and Michal Hambourg's
1934 version of this has recently become
available on CD on APR7040, an intensely
involving experience). Bavouzet creates
an exciting experience, enjoying the
double-octaves and later suggesting
recitative with his left hand lines.
Most impressive though are the fantasy
he displays in the slower section and
the way he refuses to break his tone
even in the most vehement fortissimo.
The brief but sugnificant
Bagatelle without tonality separates
this from another extended item, La
In the Bagatelle,
Bavouzet somehow projects the waltz
element, the diabolical element and
the essence of late Liszt in less than
three minutes. La notte, a work
that derives from Il penseroso
(inspired by Michelangelo's sculpture)
is Lisztian darkness exemplified. Bavouzet
paces the slower sections perfectly,
bringing an impressive tread to the
bass ostinato soon before the work's
conclusion. The Trauervorspiel und
Trauermarsch represents a deconstructed
march (and includes some very telling
single lines around five minutes in);
the rustlings (almost watery!) of the
Hymne du matin provide telling
Prelude and Transfiguration is
interesting in juxtaposing Kocsis and
Liszt's responses to Wagner's orchestral
score. Kocsis had a hard job – the long
lines are going to be difficult to sustain
on a piano, yet Bavouzet's carefully-chosen
tempo and his full-on concentration
enable the spirit of the original to
shine through. It is true that Kocsis'
transcription does not rise to Liszt's
heights in the Transfiguration and it
is here that Bavouzet is at his best,
rising naturally to a full-blown (but
not over-blown) climax.
Finalle, En rêve, an exercise
in pianistic stasis. This is a real
jewel of a piece, and suffice it to
say that Bavouzet treats it with the
reverence it deserves.
A superb recital, excellently
recorded and delivered by a pianist
of real stature.