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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Works for Violin and Piano
Duo for Violin and Piano, S127 [22:04]
Epithalamium, S129 [4:38]
Die drei Zigeuner for violin and piano, S. 383 [10:07]
Elegie No. 1, S130 [5:36]
Elegie No. 2, S131 [4:56]
Valse-Impromptu (arr. J. Hubay for violin and piano), S.213 [6:38]
Grand duo concertant sur la romance de M. Lafont 'Le Marin', S. 128 [15:30]
Voytek Proniewicz (violin), Wojciech Waleczek (piano)
rec. Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, Warsaw, Poland
3-4 March and 15-17July 2013
NAXOS 8.573145 [70:01]

Liszt's output is dominated by the solo piano, but there are also important contributions to the choral, orchestral and song repertoire. The chamber music probably comes after these genres in importance, but nonetheless has some very worthwhile pieces, not least for violin and piano. This disc provides a good cross-section of those works and opens and closes with his two main compositions for the duo. It also includes an attractive selection of smaller pieces.

The Duo Sonata (on Polish Themes) S.127 was completed in 1835 and is a tribute to Liszt's friend Chopin. The music draws on the Mazurka in C sharp minor Op.6 No.2, as well as on other Polish material. It is one of his more significant chamber works for any combination and is in four substantial movements. The Epithalamium was a wedding gift to the great violinist Eduard Reményi, for whom the gipsy style Die drei Zigeuner (The Three Gypsies) was also intended. The two Elegies were originally for solo piano and commemorate members of Liszt's circle, while the variations of the Grand Duo Concertant provide considerable opportunity for virtuoso display for both instruments. It would be a surprise that the slight romance of Lafont could yield such riches if we had not heard Liszt do it so often in his solo piano display pieces. With the exception of the Duo Sonata this repertoire is for the most part very entertaining salon music and none the worse for that.

Both these prize-winning Polish performers are very impressive indeed. Voytek Proniewicz has both the big technique and appealing tone for such repertoire. Wojciech Waleczek is a worthy partner - Liszt after all is unlikely to provide straightforward piano parts. Waleczek is certainly up to their more outrageous demands. In the shorter works they exude charm and an easy sense of style, and bring the same commitment to those works as to the larger ones. In the Grand Duo they are formidable, not least in the fourth variation, a tarantella which is a tour de force in such skilful hands.

All in all this is a very enjoyable disc, well recorded, with intriguing repertoire splendidly played. There are quite a few alternatives for each work here, but few one-disc selections include both the larger works. Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin) and Edoardo Torbianelli (who plays a fortepiano) do so on a Gramola SACD which has three other works in common with this issue. I have not heard that, but it is twice the price and surely unlikely to be twice as good.

Roy Westbrook

Previous review: Philip R Buttall


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