Related Links

Recommended Links

Give the Composers Timeline Poster

Site News

What's New for
Winter 2018/2019?

Site Search

Follow us on
Facebook    Twitter


In association with
Amazon UKAmazon GermanyAmazon CanadaAmazon FranceAmazon Japan

CD Universe



Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

CD Review

Franz Liszt

Song Without End

  • Piano Concerto #1 in E Flat Major *
  • Hungarian Fantasy for Piano & Orchestra *
  • Mephisto Waltz #1
Jorge Bolet, piano
* Symphony of the Air/Robert Irving
Everest SBDR-3062
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

The music of Franz Liszt played the lead role in Jorge Bolet's illustrious career. His Decca recordings remain wonderful for their singing and poetic stances, in contrast to merely banging away aimlessly at keys. Admittedly, Liszt is a composer who can respond to both approaches, but Bolet is a favorite of the former camp. Those Decca productions also date from a quarter century later than these Everest pressings; the younger Bolet retains the poetry while arguably possessing more fire.

The two works with piano and orchestra are splendid. While Robert Irving and the Symphony of the Air prove capable enough in their supporting role, this is the pianist's show. Bolet's fingers are fully equipped to meet these works' virtuoso challenges; there is an almost loving tenderness in the playing that may come as a surprise to those who see these works as showpieces and trash. The slower sections are gorgeously nuanced. The orchestral playing in the concerto fails to complement the pianist fully enough to make this a top recommendation, though. Nor will listeners expecting white-hot fury be as impressed as I was. Still, the unblushingly romantic approach perfectly matches Bolet's utterly captivating art. Most impressive is his ability to allow the music to breathe, refusing to rush and giving every note care and consideration – very impressive. Similarly, the Hungarian Fantasy features some rough and ready (albeit committed and well conducted) orchestral contributions framing some standout solo playing. Bolet's entrance is breathtaking, so what a pity that the brass following him are so ill-toned. Once past that, the performance is a winner. Bolet's piano isn't the prettiest instrument, but the playing is still magnificent. Those trills are astounding, and outclass his later efforts in that regard. For overall excellence, the 1980's Decca productions get my nod, if only for Iván Fischer's superior London Symphony Orchestra forces. Still, these readings command your attention in their own right.

I'm not sure if the Mephisto Waltz is the same one as released on SDBR-3064, but I imagine so considering the identical timings. In any case, this lone solo selection simply dazzles. Shorn of subpar orchestral backing, Bolet fires away and lets loose. Even here though, the pianist effectively balances the lyrical elements with the more daredevil passages. It's again a testament to Bolet's refusal to make Liszt sound like vulgar trash. If you love this music, you need this disc despite any reservations I may have. The production value of this reissue is high, with original notes and clear sound. Countdown Media offers this as either an Amazon CD or an iTunes download. Grab it.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman