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Vadim Gluzman - A quite extraordinarily good disc

This impressed me mightily

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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Complete Piano Music - Volume 25
Verdi Concert Paraphrases and Transcriptions
Rigoletto: Paraphrase de concert S434/R267 (1858) [7:38]
Aida: Danza sacra e duetto final S436/R269 (1879) [11:38]
Miserere du Trovatore S433/R266 (1859) [8:39]
Salve Maria de “Jérusalem” (I Lombardi) S431/R264 (1848) [6:48]
Don Carlos: Coro di festa e Marcia funebre S435/R268 (1867) [7:07]
Réminiscences de Boccanegra S438/R271 (1882) [11:17]
Ernani: Paraphrase de concert S432/R265 (1849) [8:49]
Alexandre Dossin (piano)
rec. The Country Day School, King City, Ontario, 9-12 August 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.557904 [61:56]

It is worth reflecting that Verdi was born two years after Liszt, so in recycling his operatic music for the piano he was paying tribute to a younger man. He was also familiar with the genre as a conductor of Verdi operas in Weimar during the 1850s. This disc is not quite a complete collection of Liszt’s piano works inspired by Verdi operas since only the second of the two Ernani paraphrases is included. Liszt also re-worked the Agnus Dei from Verdi’s Requiem and it is pity that this and the first Ernani paraphrase weren’t included. Nevertheless, only the Rigoletto paraphrase has been oft recorded and this collection certainly fills a gap.

The difference between a paraphrase and a transcription is a question of how much Liszt developed the thematic material – a transcription being more literal. The booklet is not very clear as to which of these pieces is actually a transcription – perhaps I Lombardi, this work itself having been recast as “Jerusalem” in 1847. The rest seem to be in the paraphrase or reminiscence camp. These pieces are not mere medleys of the best tunes but tend to revolve around the music at key points in the action.

Apart from the Rigoletto paraphrase, all these works were new to me in this guise. Whilst there is no doubting that that work deserves its fame, the others are no mere also-rans. The final duet from Aida and the funeral march from Don Carlos are most movingly portrayed. The Boccanegra paraphrase is almost symphonic in conception and Ernani provides a rousing conclusion to the disc.

The demands made by these works on Brazilian pianist Alexander Dossin are considerable. No doubt technical virtuosity is a prerequisite but the need to convey dramatic sweep is paramount. He more than meets these challenges. The recorded sound is excellent and notes by Keith Anderson provide detailed information relating to the relevant part of each opera plot.

The Naxos Liszt piano series continues to prove valuable and, once again, music originally by another composer represents a high spot. This disc is highly attractive fare and Liszt’s Beethoven and Rossini (8.553961) await you for afters.

Patrick C Waller

see also Review by Michael Cookson RECORDING OF THE MONTH in July




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