During his stay in the French capital, the German poet Heinrich Heine wrote a series of articles for the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, entitled “Musikalische Saison in Paris” (= musical season in Paris). These articles still make for fascinating reading, with Heine providing a highly ironic and personal account of musical life in Paris. And, of course, he repeatedly dealt with composer Franz Liszt. This was again the case in the article devoted to the year 1841. That year, Liszt had given two piano recitals based on the music of Beethoven. Heine writes the following: “Despite his genius, Liszt meets with opposition here in Paris, which usually consists of serious musicians and crowns his rival, the imperial Thalberg, with laurels. – Liszt has already given two concerts in which he has played all by himself, against all tradition, without involving other artists. He is now preparing a third concert in honour of Beethoven. This composer must indeed appeal most to the taste of someone like Liszt.”
Total time: 01:12:16
|Original Recording Format|
Roger de Schot
Haus des Rundfunks, RBB Berlin
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|Release Date||August 8, 2015|
Armenian pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, who has been playing since the age of five, has been making an impressive round of performances with noted orchestras all over the world.
She shows amazing maturity and restraint in these two warhorses. Arghamanyan takes a lyrical and more sedate style into her soul with readings that are just loaded with flexible and soaring flight-of-fancy finger work that focuses on Liszt’s inimitable sense of rhapsodic invention. These are not hell-bent-for-leather performances but instead those that seek a chamber music intimacy within the confines of a large orchestra whole — and it works.
One could argue that a piece like Totentanz, maybe the composer’s most devilish orchestral score, would not respond to the melodic musings of a light touch, but you would be wrong. This work, a series of variations on the Gregorian Dies irae, achieves its percussive effects on its own with little help needed from the pianist, and holds her own in a splendid reading. The Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Tunes, that originally featured conductor Hans von Bulow as the pianist at the premiere, is one of two arrangements Liszt made of his Hungarian Rhapsody No. 14. It is an enthusiastic and fun piece of work taken for what it is — an audience-pleaser and rousing work of great invention. Again, Arghamanyan is at the top of her game, as is the splendid Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and their young conductor. Pentatone provides wondrous surround sound.
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