Friday, 16 December 2016

Franz Liszt with Daniil Trifonov

I have mentioned before my ambivalent history with the music of Franz Liszt. I enjoy his songs. I like his music for violin and piano. I like much of his piano music. I do not like his piano sonata, and I certainly do not like his orchestral music. Not much of a Liszt fan club here, I'm afraid. But I bought Daniil Trifonov's new double CD of Liszt's études to help solve my Liszt conundrum. Like most people, I know many of the études d'exécution transcendante; here we have all twelve played, on occasions, by a man who seemingly has 36 fingers. I am no piano expert (and far from being a Liszt expert), but it would surprise me to hear that anyone plays these pieces better than Trifonov. My only gripe is that DG has – quite unnecessarily – left only very brief pauses between the twelve pieces and, if you are not careful, the pieces all run into one. Adroit manipulation of the pause on the remote control is needed, a defect I have met with other recordings in the past (for example, Renaud Capuçon's recording of encore pieces).

The six Paganini études are great fun (for those who know the original pieces) with five études based on Paganini's caprices, and one on the La Campanella finale from the second violin concerto. Again, things are marred by minimal pauses between the pieces, a lamentable lack of attention to detail. Probably not a double disk set I'll return to too often, but nice to have for Trifonov's astonishing pianism, and for the Paganini études.

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