- Composer: FRANZ LISZT
- Audio CD (Oct. 9 2001)
- SPARS Code: ADD
- Number of Discs: 9
- Format: Box set
- Label: Decca - Universal Special Imports
- ASIN: B00005ND3L
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,531 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
PIANO WORKS Box set
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One of the greatest interpreters of Liszt, Jorge Bolet recorded eight volumes of his solo piano musicfor Decca. These recordings have previously only been available separtely and at top price. Anadded bonus in this collector's edition box is a nineth CD, which includes the reminiscences onthemes from Bellini's opera 'Norma' and the Fantasia on Hungarian folk themes.
Top Customer Reviews
Bolet won a Gramophone Award for his 1st book of Années de Pelerinage, which is not strange when listening to the recordings. This is a portrait of a man who's entirely on his own, looking for his soul while wandering trough the beautiful Switzerland - I can't say it better than B. Johnson already did. It's Romantic nonsense, of course, but in Liszt's days it was a common idea, and it can still sweep me away. Bolet's superior tonal colouring - beautiful, but not too far-driven, for the risk it would almost be too intimidating - and his peaceful nature lift this music to the greatest heights. My only complaint would be the 'Orage' piece: Bolet's technique can't quite handle it, and its aggressive nature is much less overwhelming as a result. Nevertheless, the rest of the pieces show him at his very best. So does the second year of the Années (that is oddly placed in the set before the first year by Decca). The Dante Sonata, one of Liszt's greatest pieces, fares very well under Bolet's hands.
Equally excellent were the Schubert Song Transcriptions. The transcriptions aren't very different from the original songs, but they are definitely interesting. Especially when someone like Bolet takes them under his hands! All songs are terrifically played, with real standouts like 'Auf dem Wasser zu singen', 'Der Mueller und der Bach' and 'Erlkoenig'. Bolet's romantic touch (he may have been the last of his kind) lets the music unendingly flow. Brilliant!
These comments also apply to Liszt's Consolations, which are placed on another disc. Liszt shows here how much he's in debt to Schubert, and wrote music of a disarmingly lyrical nature. Bolet gives almost naively innocent readings of these pieces. Talking about singing music, why not include the Liebesträume, 'Venezia e Napoli' and many, many other pieces as well. Although some people still regard Liszt as a bombastic composer, he was in fact much more active on the spiritual and lyrical area. It is largely this nature of Liszt that is put into the spotlights by Bolet. He is really terrific whenever music ought to sound peaceful and meditative.
But Liszt was also a stunning virtuoso. People may eschew him for that, but that's often without any good ground. The B minor Sonata and the Transcendental Etudes, to give some names, are not only pianistically but also musically amazing works. It takes to be both a good technician and a musician to play them well, and this is where Bolet occasionally fails. He was over 65 when he made these recordings, and I can't help but say that his technique was not anymore what it used to be. In much pieces you can hear him struggle. In the mentioned Benediction de Dieu, he sometimes just skips notes or chords or at least has difficulty to reach to them.
Best example may be the Sonata in B minor: apart from the overall flat interpretation of Bolet, the climactic final doesn't sound nearly as impressive as with Pollini, Brendel or Arrau, to name a few other faithful Lisztians. Bolet is mainly trying to keep his fingers on track and the overall feeling of his interpretation is cautious rather than shattering. In what may be the most difficult music Liszt wrote, the Transcendental Etudes, Bolet is overall quite weak. His tempi are far too slow (e.g. no.10 should be 'Allegro molto agitato' but Bolet plays it very moderately), and he never gets really good music out of the pieces. His technique was probably too limited to give the pieces a really impressive treatment. Those who nevertheless think Bolet's Etudes are great, should listen to Claudio Arrau.
But to end with some good news: there are also difficult pieces that Bolet handles better. Don't ask why, but he does. The most funny example is the 'Reminiscences de Don Juan', which is a transcription of no less an opera than -of course- Don Giovanni! Bolet plays this 20-minute piece with a lot of humour and swing: it's a great way to clean up your mind! Also recommendable are the Etudes de Concert (e.g. Waldesrauschen), whose light spirit is very well captured by Bolet.
A treasure trove set overall, I can recommend it without any limitations. There's no other composer that suited Bolet as well as Liszt, and the vice versa may be true as well. But the pianist also has his weaker points, particularly regarding his technique, that wasn't what it used to be. Oh, and the piano sound is not always equally convincing: the instrument sounds a little shrill at times. This collection is therefore not just THE best Liszt: there are much more pianists who made supreme recordings of him (e.g. Arrau, Brendel, Howard, Richter) and I definitely recommend searching them out as well. After you've heard this!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
I had in November 1998 in Timisoara (Romania) the very rare opportunity to listen to a magnificent recital of his including works by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Liszt /Wagner. The feeling that I was witnessing a genius of the piano has stayed with me ever since.
On this recording Francois-Rene simply sparks in wondrous masterworks like the mighty "Soneto 104 del Petrarca" or the grave and terrifying Funerailles, traversing all the gamut of lyrical states from that sweet Consolation No.3 to the poignant mellowness of the Ballad No.2, passing through the delicacy of the "Jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este" or the consistent virtuosity of the "Mephisto Valse" No.1. In this recital not only the moods of the pieces gain their very different color, but the pianistic technique itself undergoes different experiences, being demanded on distinct directions: filigree structures, majestic chords thrown on the keyboard, delicious legatos, nuanced rubatos etc. But above all these details a poetic atmosphere floats conjured up by Duchable's fabulous musical insight. Every note is perfectly articulated, every nuance receives its proper weigh, stunning phrases sprout vivaciously from one another, and what fabulous brisk chords strike at times the keyboard! However, on my taste the climax is reached at the end of the program in the famous "La Campanella" Etude after Paganini, played here as a single breathe in a vivid flawless finger-work.
The regrets that Duchable can no more be seen and heard on the international concert platform since 2003 (when he decided, aged 51, to relinquish from giving concerts) can be partly redeemed by this fabulous CD treasuring - in a quintessential manner - all his romantic fervor and dazzling technical skills. Try it and you won't be disappointed by this seductive account of an accomplished Liszt interpreter!
The beauty of the pieces is amazing and it's a shame so much of Liszt's work is not included in other best piano compilations.
Had I known better I would've bought this collection long time ago, together with other giants as Chopin, Rachmaninov and Debussy.
Now is clear why Liszt was regarded as a super star in his life time and they reason so many other musicians envied him.
Of the 80 pieces included in the set, I will be listening to 60 of them over and over again.
If you love piano get this set now.
The quality of sound of this cd is super also.
The most favorite cd out of my collection.
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