This is a great performance of the Appassionata; the power and passion is there, the sweet song and the thunder-storm. Lisitsa’s technical mastery is complete; painting the big picture, and drawing a wealth of inner detail from even the most compositionally dense passages. The range of dynamic and dramatic contrast is wide, her tone is unfailingly beautiful. Timings are in the general range of other recordings. I felt totally drawn into this performance. Playing like this demands complete attention; not for listening in the car while driving!
After the drama of Beethoven, the quiet reflections of Kinderszenen are the perfect companion. Over-familiar? Deceptively simple? Another revelation. Valentina’s playing is exquisitely beautiful and tender, especially Child going to sleep. I think only a mother could play it like that. The last piece, The Poet Speaks, is profound and deeply moving. Program your player to stop after this piece; sit quietly for a while. Listen to the other selections on the CD some other time.
Thalberg’s piece is better than I thought it would be; a finger-buster with some animus. Like Champagne, best taken not too often. Liszt’s Totentanz is also a supreme test of a pianist’s playing chops. Valentina has them all for sure.
Keith Davies Jones