Franz LISZT (1810-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10 in E (1851-53) [5.21]
Ballade No. 2 in B minor (1853) [13.43]
Liebeslied (Widmung) (Schumann/Liszt) (1848) [3.37]
Gretchen am Spinnrade (Schubert/Liszt) (1838) [3.59]
Sonata in B minor (1854) [29:46]
Nino Gvetadze (piano)
rec. Westvest 90-church Schiedam, The Netherlands,16-19 February 2011
Nino Gvetadze was the recipient of the Second Prize, Audience Prize and Press Prize at the 2008 Liszt Competition and received a prestigious Barletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2010. She appears to have a close affinity with the music of Liszt and for this disc has elected to play the greatest of his piano compositions - the Sonata in B minor - as well as a selection from his other works as her contribution to the bi-centenary year.
She opens the recital in sparkling form playing the Tenth Hungarian Rhapsody. Difficult scale passages, glissandi, trills and virtuoso passage-work are tossed off with consummate ease. The gypsy idiom is beautifully captured and the virtuosity is dazzling. This is followed by a larger-scale work - the seemingly ubiquitous Second Ballade. This is taken at a brisk speed. I liked this performance better than some of the others I have heard. Gvetadze brings organic unity to a piece that can otherwise come across as flabby and disorganised. There’s some rather compelling and imaginative story-telling at work here. The keyboard gymnastics did not pose any sort of problem to this gifted technician.
Gvetadze’s performance of Liszt’s transcription of Widmung seems slightly understated. I thought she could have made more of its rich sonorities and grand romantic sweep. However, her Gretchen am Spinnrade was hauntingly beautiful articulating a sense of anguish, foreboding and growing disquiet. The mesmeric whirring of the ever-present spinning wheel is wonderfully realised.
The Sonata is one of the pinnacles of the piano repertoire and it was a brave choice to include it. Gvetadze maintains a strong sense of architectural and thematic coherence throughout yet brings a fresh and improvisatory feel to the music. Some of her passage-work and pyrotechnics were glorious particularly in the opening Allegro Energico. She could have made a little more of the orchestral sonorities by using a wider range of tone colours and textures particularly in the central section. The fugue which opens the final episode was brisk and well articulated. Gvetadze does well to maintain a strong sense of line and thematic coherence through the various subsequent changes of tempo in the closing pages. The prestissimo octaves at the end are dispatched with virtuoso aplomb although I have heard them played faster and more powerfully. The Lento Assai was lyrical and elegant although it does not fully express the mysticism and other-worldliness that Liszt may well have been trying to realise. All in all, however, I thought this was a first rate recital.
Robert Beattie
A first rate recital.