Franz (Ferenc) LISZT (1811-1886) Sonata in b minor, S178 (1857) [34:19] Sonetto di Petrarca No.47 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161. No.4) (1846) [6:24] Sonetto di Petrarca No.104 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161, No.5) (1846) [7:35] Sonetto di Petrarca No.123 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161, No.6) (1846) [7:58] Après une lecture du Dante - Fantasia quasi Sonata (Années
de pèlerinage: Italie, S161, No.7) (1846) [18:15]
Angela Hewitt (piano)
rec. Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, May 2014. DDD HYPERION CDA68067 [74:31]
Sonata in b minor, S178 (1857) [29:52] Sonetto di Petrarca No.47 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161. No.4) (1846) [5:51] Sonetto di Petrarca No.104 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161, No.5) (1846) [6:28] Sonetto di Petrarca No.123 (Années de pèlerinage: Italie,
S161, No.6) (1846) [7:04] Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) El Amor y la Muerte from Goyescas [12:52]
Domenico Codispoti (piano)
rec. Studio Odradek, December 2011. DDD ODRADEK ODRCD303 [62:10]
Angela Hewitt sets the mood of the b minor sonata instantly.
She plays the two opening notes in octaves very quietly and mysteriously,
taking on board the composers comment that these should sound
like muffled timpani. She creates more of an air of mystery
in this opening lento assai and makes a greater contrast with
the ensuing allegro energico than Domenico Codispoti on Odradek.
His recording is good enough but miked a little too closely. Also the
lack of contrast in the dynamics is possibly due more to the Odradek
recording than to Codispotis playing.
is masterly and provides Angela Hewitt with every opportunity to present
her interpretation. Throughout I was struck, not only by the passion,
drama, emotional intensity and drive mustered by Hewitt, but also her
delicacy, subtlety of touch and expression, and her rubato which
is always perfectly conceived. In the first movement I noticed the cascading
semiquaver accompaniment passages which always glitter and sparkle like
jewels in her hands, all admirably captured with utmost clarity by the
The second movement is exquisitely played by Hewitt, a deep and thoughtful
interpretation. The link to the third movement is superbly managed and
in the opening of this three-part fugato, Hewitts touch is light
and clear in texture. At this point she seems to revert to the style
of playing we normally expect from her Bach. This makes such a telling
contrast with her romantic way with the slow movement, and both styles
appear totally natural for her. For a while it seems we are back in
the Baroque era ... but not for long, as we soon reach the fourth section:
back to Lisztian drama and virtuosity. Then comes the return of the
second subject, gloriously played.
There is no lack of virtuosity in the coda (closing section)
and I liked the fullness and richness of her chord playing in the last
return of the second subject theme. The closing andante sostenuto
and final very soft chords are most moving. Very fine playing here and
excellent recording quality. Only minor niggles in that the melody notes
in occasional chords in the second subjects appearances could have
been projected more, and there seems to be a chord missing in bar 298.
It is hard to believe Hyperion would make such an editing error, so
I hope that this is just a fault in my copy of the download.
Codispoti seems to take a while to bring real drama to the work. He
plays the opening notes in octaves more drily, more staccato
and more loudly than Hewitt. The first movement is light in touch and
the big climaxes are not as powerfully realised as with some players.
However, by the time we arrive at the deep c-sharp minor presentation
of the second subject, Codispotis fortissimo and pesante
are magnificent. The quiet and delicate sections are exquisitely played
and realized with a sensitive, delicate touch.
The performance is certainly not over pedalled, resulting in good textural
clarity. Codispoti plays the slower middle section beautifully and sensitively,
although his idea of andante sostenuto is somewhat quicker and
more flowing than Angela Hewitt. Hewitt is more elegiac in mood here
and I must say I prefer her depth of expression. The final section or
recapitulation starts lightly, like Hewitt, but the sound is slightly
muffled compared with the Hyperion recording. Codispoti increases the
excitement as the music becomes a whirlwind of virtuosity. He approaches
the climaxes magnificently, most notably in the coda. This climax is
followed by the concluding andante sostenuto and I particularly
liked the very soft closing chords. Here Codispoti gives a real sense
of rest and resignation after the trials and tribulations of Liszts
Fortunately I listened to the Odradek recording first and thought Codispotis
approach very fine indeed, particularly as he progressed through the
work. I hope that he will become one of the great players of the future.
That said, I only had to hear a few bars of Angela Hewitts account
to realise that we were in a different league of playing and experience.
Hewitts performance of Liszts Sonata is up there with the great recordings
already available on the market and is a must-hear for all lovers of
Liszts ground-breaking masterpiece. She really lives this music: it
is thrillingly played from start to finish and the recording is up to
Hyperions usual superb standards.
Both Domenico Codispoti and Angela Hewitt continue their recitals with
the Tre Sonetti di Petrarca from the second book of Années
de pèlerinage. Hugh Collins Rice writes some first-class
programme notes for the Odradek recording and I particularly like his
brilliant suggestion that these pieces could be described as Songs
Beyond Words. Originally conceived as songs for tenor and piano, both
pianists capture the lyrical nature of these pieces. Hewitt gives slower
accounts of all three, and once again I am glad I heard Codispoti first
because, excellent though he is, Hewitt is the winner here. Her performances,
as in the B minor Sonata have a much wider range of expression,
dynamics, touch and colour, and she is aided by a superior recording.
The Odradek sounds a little boxy in comparison to Hyperions warmer
acoustic which allows Hewitts melodies to sing so beautifully.
Always controlled and poised, Hewitt nevertheless demonstrates her
technical brilliance with a keen feel for Liszts style in the composers
first incarnation as a travelling virtuoso. Particularly touching are
her shapely melodic lines with just the right amount of give and take
in the pulse. These melodies can be tender or passionate, especially
in Sonetto 104, which is perhaps the most romantic of the three,
and all are stunningly played here by Hewitt. She gives a fine account
of Sonetto 123, her own personal favourite, and I also appreciated
the tenderness of her playing, especially in the closing section.
The Hyperion recording concludes with the Dante Sonata which
begins with its frightening depiction of hell. Hewitt is well able to
portray the moods here, but also the touching, gentler moments later
in the piece where she produces some beautifully coloured phrasing and
textures. The three main themes of the sonata are transformed in various
ways throughout the piece, and Hewitt has a real command of the overall
structure of the work.
Domenico Codispotis final piece is El Amor y la Muerte
from Goyescas by Granados. He gives a very good account but once
again I felt that whilst he provided much of the musical feeling and
all the technical expertise needed, somehow the performance just needed
that bit more in every respect than he was able to give.