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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Années de Pélerinage - Deuxième Année (Italie) S161 (1837-49)
Sposalizio [7:17]
Il Penseroso [4:29]
Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa [2:24]
Sonetto 47 del Petrarca [5:27]
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca [5:41]
Sonetto 123 del Petrarca [6:09]
Après une lecture de Dante - Fantasia quasi Sonata [14:15]
Piano Sonata in B minor, S178 (1852-53) [25:36]
Angela Brownridge (piano)
rec. 2011, Fairfield Halls, Croydon

Let me offer a brief welcome back to a disc I reviewed, under the catalogue number CC9045CD, back in May 2012. My review then was in the context of three discs on Cameo made by Angela Brownridge. The repertoire was Schumann in volume one, Chopin in volume two and Liszt in this, the third volume. Of the three the (relative) weakest was the Chopin, and I preferred the Schumann to the Liszt, fine though many things were in that final third volume. Listening again I will just reiterate that her Liszt Sonata is exceptionally fast and I’m still sure I’ve not heard a faster one – hardly a determining factor as to quality, but worth reiterating. The following review is slightly amended to ensure it reads reasonably without cross-referencing the other two discs.

Her Liszt sonata in fact doesn’t feel dramatically fast but when one looks at one’s watch one realises that it is. It must be one of the fastest performances on disc. The salient points to note are those of digital clarity and a studied refusal to over-pedal. Indeed she is scrupulous throughout these three discs in her avoidance of over-pedalling. Her approach is thus strongly linear, avoiding muddied textures. Her chording is sound, and highly accomplished. Occasionally this does come across as rather circumspect and almost surgical. The physical demands of this sonata are strong and I felt energy somewhat sapping toward the end, which loses phrasal shape once or twice, good though the earlier fugal section is. Clearly Horowitz, Argerich, Arrau and Fiorentino, to name a formidable quartet, offer a wholly different, more knotty, kinetic, virtuosic and overwhelming experience. In addition, her Petrarch Sonnets are again marked by directness - though her No.47 is surely too detached and cool. However her Il Penseroso is another matter; it has something of the gaunt trajectory of Sofronitzky’s recording. And Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa has a straightforward and engaging quality, though it doesn’t seek to replicate Sofronitzky’s occasional outbursts of raw emotion.

Changed number or not this is still a fine and representative selection of Brownridge’s Liszt repertoire.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous reviews: Jonathan Woolf (earlier release) ~ John Whitmore



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