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Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.7 Import

2 customer reviews

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Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.7 + Liszt: Piano Works, Vol. 4 - Années de Pèlerinage, Italie
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Product details

  • Composer: Franz Liszt
  • Audio CD (25 Oct. 1990)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0000041QU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,160 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Transcendental Studies, S139: I. Preludio: Presto
2. Transcendental Studies, S139: II. Molto Vivace
3. Transcendental Studies, S139: III. Paysage: Poco Adagio
4. Transcendental Studies, S139: IV. Mazeppa: Allegro
5. Transcendental Studies, S139: V. Feux Follets: Allegretto
6. Transcendental Studies, S139: VI. Vision: Lento
7. Transcendental Studies, S139: VII. Eroica: Allegro
8. Transcendental Studies, S139: VIII. Wilde Jagd: Presto Furioso
9. Transcendental Studies, S139: IX. Ricordenza: Andantino
10. Transcendental Studies, S139: X. Allegro Agitato Molto
11. Transcendental Studies, S139: XI. Harmonies Du Soir: Andantino
12. Transcendental Studies, S139: XII. Chasse-Neige: Andante Con Moto

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Bracken on 23 Feb. 2008
Bolet attracted a cult-like following but never achieved true celebrity status which is odd because his command of Liszt's repertoire was absolute.

A few critics bang on about his keyboard reserve but they are clutching at straws. The finest Lisztean of his generation, and among the finest ever, Bolet's recordings for Decca are staggeringly brilliant. The scale of his achievement in the service of this gloriously gifted composer is writ large in this disc, comprising music of formidable creative power and rhetoric. This is not background or easy listening fare: the pieces demand attention, and deserve it. None more so than the finest of the set, 'Harmonies du soir', whose relentless, tidal-like grandeur takes the breath away.

Bolet's poise, control of colour and transcendental articulation are majestic, and he is served by a recording to match. Outstanding in every way.
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Endorse the favourable remarks from the previous commentator. This is mesmerising playing caught in superb Decca sound engineering. These works are undoubted peaks in the Romantic piano repertoire and these performances recorded late in Bolet's career demonstrate his clear affinity with this composer...not as if there could ever be any doubt and certainly no doubt in my mind. This is truly outstanding music making.

Recently purchased on Amazon despite the fact the verified purchase tag isn't coming up...can't see the point of having this tag if it doesn't always work, especially when I have bought several CDs in these series here!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Great Liszt CD by Jorge Bolet 2 Aug. 2007
By Amy - Published on Amazon.com
Liszt's Transcendental Etudes are a set of studies that he dedicated to his teacher Karl Czerny. These studies should not be taken as separate pieces but looked at as one large work. They are similar to the set of Chopin's 24 Etudes. While both these works are often played in parts I strongly feel that the intentions of the composer have to be taken into consideration. For Chopin, the Etudes were based in every possible key therefore it would only be right to pay justice by playing or listening to the whole set. From the onset of the first Etude the Preludio, it is all pure virtuosity. There was even a second version in Liszt composed later which verged on the point of being virtually unplayable. The versions we now hear are the revised and final versions of 1851. I would love to hear both versions. The Transcendental Etudes are numbered 1-12 as follows:

1) Preludio C major 7 Eroica E flat major
2) Molto vivace A minor 8 Wilde Jagd C minor
3) Paysage F major 9 Ricordanza A flat major
4) Mazeppa D minor 10 Allegro agitato molto F minor
5) Feux Follets B flat major 11 Harmonies du soir -D flat major
6) Vision G minor 12 Chasse eige Bflat minor
All te pieces are given names with the exception of Nos.2 and 10. It is also surprising to note that all of them have some sort of a story behind them. For example No.4: Mazeppa, a display of Liszt's graphic violence. The piece was inspired by the legendary Mazeppa, a Ukrainian nobleman caught in an amorous encounter with a count's wife. As punishment, he is tied naked to a wild horse which is then driven into the night. The piece accelerates in tempo, perhaps imitating the galloping horse, which eventually collapses. Bolet's recording shows his mastery of the pedal which gives it strength especially at the end. No.5, Feux follets, is equally hairraising in its dramatic impact, forged with awesome technical difficulty. No.6, Vision, sees the pianist polevaulting across the piano with its arpeggio chords something which must be seen to be truly believed. This is where you will understand why the word transcendental is truly appropriate to the music. Jorge Bolet has the pathos few can match. He plays with great magnificence in the first three pages, with great concentration in the left hand. Bolet provides a build-up which few modern pianists can emulate. I suppose this is something that he took with him to his grave. The last in the set is the Chasse-neige which can be viewed as the greatest of Studies. It is unique in its mood of desolation it has been poetically described as snow-flakes gradually covering and burying the whole world. A study of nature at her most merciless. Sadly, Bolet died in 1990 the year he made this recording from complications of AIDS. Liszt was his favorite composer and it seems fitting that this be the last recording he made before his death.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If there ever was a definitive performance, this is it 3 Jun. 2011
By Alexander Arsov - Published on Amazon.com
It's an interesting topic for speculation whether I suffer from the FRS (First Recording Syndrome). Jorge Bolet's late recording for DECCA was the first complete set of Liszt's Transcendental Studies I ever heard, quite a long time ago, and it still remains by far the finest one - even after all those years and a number of alternatives, some good (Arrau, Ovchinnikov, Ott, Stanev, Howard), some bad (Berman, Cziffra, Berezovsky), but not one of them in the same leage as Jorge Bolet. The only other complete recording I am ready to rank with Bolet's is his own first attempt, made as early as 1970 for the perfectly obscure label Ensayo. Yet even this stupendous performance, though more technically accomplished than the later one, falls short in terms of poetic depth.

Now I fully understand that Bolet's intensely personal approach to the keyboard is not everybody's cup of tea. Oddly enough, it isn't mine, either. Somehow, however, Bolet manages to get away with slow tempi and restraint I would never forgive another pianist. Similar tempi in lesser hands, and minds, do sound sluggish, awkward, contrived, mannered, you name it. Similar poise and control often lead to sophomoric performances of deadly dullness. Not Jorge Bolet. Under his fingers even the slowest possible tempi make perfect sense and sound utterly convincing. I guess the secret is that he doesn't rely on sharp contrasts, but rather on subtle fluctuations, in this respect. Bolet's tone - almost always produced on Bechstein or Baldwin, rather than on the proverbial Steinway - is another of those pianistic miracles one doesn't find in the youngsters today. It is suave, smooth, silky, velvety; in short, impossible to describe. The dynamic range and the sonority are enormous, almost orchestral, even sometimes reminding me of a mighty organ in a vast cathedral; yet never is there any banging, any virtuosity for virtuosity's sake, any foolish bravado for cheap accolades. For Bolet music always came first, and he was always capable to infuse even the most often played piece with fresh poetry that makes you re-think what you thought you knew.

With the possible exception of Vladimir Horowitz, never have I heard other pianist bringing out so many inner voices and forgotten details without ever degrading a composition to a mass of details than Jorge Bolet. Nor, with the same exception in mind, have I ever heard a more unique and instantly recognisable artist than Jorge Bolet. Strangely enough, no other two pianists can be more different than Bolet and Horowitz: listening to the same piece played by both of them is to listen to two completely different works. Even more strangely, Horowitz played but a few of the Transcendental Studies (early in his career) and never recorded even one, while Bolet played them regularly throughout his life and recorded them complete twice: 1970 for Ensayo, as already mentioned, and 1985 for DECCA, the recording that is being reviewed here. It is not stretching a point to suggest that these marvellous works have always brought out the very best of Jorge Bolet.

We need keep mind, however, that Jorge Bolet (15.XI.1914 - 16.X.1990) recorded his Transcendental Studies for DECCA when he was in his 71st year: March 1985, St. Barnabas Church, London. So the bad news, if it may be called thus, is that Bolet's tempi are even slower than usual and that occasionally - most notably in the main theme of 'Mazeppa' and the climax of 'Eroica' - his playing may somewhat lack power, especially in the left hand. As a matter of fact, Bolet's Transcendentals for DECCA, running for 74 minutes overall, are most probably the slowest ever recorded. Timings are misleading stuff, but in this particular case they are instructive:

1. Preludio (1:04)
2. Molto vivace (2:56)
3. Paysage (4:50)
4. Mazeppa (8:55)
5. Feux follets (4:32)
6. Vision (6:21)
7. Eroica (5:31)
8. Wilde Jagd (6:30)
9. Ricordanza (10:52)
10. Allegro agitato molto (5:30)
11. Harmonies du soir (10:42)
12. Chasse-neige (6:07)

I have never ever heard anybody stretching 'Wilde Jagd' to 6:30, 'Harmonies du Soir' to 10:40 and 'Eroica' to 5:30 - let alone 'Mazeppa' to nearly nine or the second study to almost three minutes. Yet timings ARE misleading, even in this particular case. Judging by them alone, one might be tempted to expect vapid and colourless renditions entirely lacking fire and drama. Far from it.

Let's take 'Mazeppa' for example. It is generally acknowledged to be one of the most challenging works in the set and many a passionate virtuoso have tried - and succeeded - to turn it into a shallow display of pyrotechnics and a truly disgusting cacophony, Boris Berezovsky in his video concert being by far the most notable example. Quite apart from that, tons of wise words have been written about the explicit program of the study, of its highly descriptive nature, galloping horses and all. This is a farrago of nonsense. Even the eponymous symphonic poem (a much extended and transformed version of the piano piece), though more programmatic than the etude, is rather vaguely reminiscent of the Hugo's poem printed by way of preface in the score which is supposed to have inspired Liszt. I have listened to 'Mazeppa' quite a number of times, yet I have never been able to bother myself with all that programmatic junk about a nobleman tied to a wild horse, etc., etc. Charming imagery, no doubt, but it is more suitable for listeners (and pianists) with very poor imagination.

What makes Bolet's 'Mazeppa' a unique experience is precisely the fact that it transcends completely such inanity as programs. The left hand in the main theme may be weak, but the theme itself - in the right hand - has rare and poignant nobility. Mind you, the etude doesn't in the least lack power or grandeur, either. Even at 70 Bolet was still capable of stupendous technical feats and he coaxes from his Bechstein tremendous sonority. Note now he plays the descending chords that appear few times during the piece: slowly but with extraordinary gradation in dynamics and impeccable articulation. Passages like these, a mere bravura display in others' hands, make much more sense under Bolet's fingers. I have never heard any other pianist, especially in Liszt's Transcendental Studies, with whom every note matters so much.

If Bolet is slightly handicapped technically in studies like 'Mazeppa' or 'Eroica', there is more than ample compensation for that: numerous nuances that are usually completely lost amidst rushing and banging. And it would be a gross mistake to underestimate Bolet's technical prowess indeed. His 'Wilde Jagd', in addition to the lovely middle part, has fabulously powerful opening and simply mind-blowing finale. Nor is the slow tempo in No. 10 at expense of its tension and drama, both captured with an almost frightening intensity. The improvisatory nature of 'Preludio', the haunting world of the Second study, the mystical grandeur of 'Vision', the whimsical mischievousness of 'Feux Follets' or the desolate bleakness of 'Chasse-neige' are superbly conveyed by Jorge Bolet, with depth and poetry yet unsurpassed.

Many listeners, I daresay, might miss the devil-may-care virtuosity of Berman and Berezovsky, but not me. There is infinitely more in Liszt's Transcendental Studies than knuckle-breaking pyrotechnics. With enough practice, everybody can play fast and loud: music schools and conservatories are full of spectacular technicians that may well toss off the Transcendentals between two coffees. But to infuse these over-played yet under-estimated pieces with originality NOT at the expense of their musicality, to reveal the hidden secrets and to convert them into tone poems: that is quite another story. Bolet's interpretations have the precious combination of inimitably unique character and a musicianship of very high order. For my part, in these works he is without precedent, let alone rival.

Apart from the aforementioned early recording for Ensayo, I have never heard anybody in any of the Transcendental Studies who even comes closer to Bolet's profound mastery and understanding - his closest rival in terms of philosophical approach to the keyboard (Claudio Arrau) firmly included. But when I come to the most lyrical of the etudes - 'Paysage', 'Ricordanza', 'Harmonies du Soir' and, to some extent, 'Chasse-neige' - Bolet is absolutely peerless. There is a recording of the young Kissin of the third of these which I used to like long time ago, but it gradually lost the battle with Bolet's spontaneous poise, if you allow the oxymoron. I have yet to hear the dreamy, other-worldly quality of the first two studies from the above list better captured by anybody else, either. Listening to Bolet's 'Chasse-neige' makes me realise why many Lisztians consider this to be the finest piece in the set. Bolet turns this masterpiece, again, in something much more than a mere snow storm.

In short, magnificent disc of great music played in a regal manner, but with no ostentation whatsoever, by one of the finest artists on the keyboard (as opposed to mere pianists) from the last century. In his late recordings for DECCA, particularly those from the second half of the 1980s, Jorge Bolet was always capable to turn his mild technical shortcomings into immense artistic advantages. This is precisely what he has done here, and what makes this disc my absolutely desert-island rendition of the Transcendentals.

The original DECCA issue is of course long since out of print, but second-hand copies in fine condition are stupendously cheap. Besides, you can find these wonderful performances as Disc 7 from Bolet's complete Liszt recordings for DECCA (Liszt: Piano Works [Box Set]), which is very much in print and comes at super-bargain price. One little bonus of the original edition are the concise and perceptive liner notes of Bryce Morrison.

P. S. DECCA's digital sound is fine, but it could have been done better, that is less clangy in the high register and more sonorous in the lower one. No matter. Minor quibble that does not detract from the greatness of Bolet's vision.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Bolet Channels Liszt!!! 4 Feb. 2012
By zerosykess - Published on Amazon.com
This is the only Liszt "Transcendental Etudes" recording to ever own. Quickly go and throw all others away....go...NOW!!!!

Why does everyone else play so fast, fumbling, stumbling, and tripping over themselves... embarassing themselves... shamefully??? I'm embarassed for them! IT IS NOT ABOUT SPEED !!

Bolet plays the "Preludio" correctly!! He doesn't play slowly, he plays perfectly, hitting every note with clarity, awareness, and feeling...... Lisztly.

Once you hear this recording you will appreciate Bolet and Liszt with admiration and recognize their elan and verve. Go! and become one with this recording! Enter the triune audacity that can transcend your innermost desires and fantasies!

Warning!!! Some listeners may not be mature enough to appreciate each piece, therefore work your way through the first three or four a few times. Bless you Franz Liszt and Bless you Jorges Bolet!!

God day to you my friends !! !Yes!....I said.... good.....day!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good stuff 31 Dec. 2011
By NPUL - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The etudes are played very slow, but the playing is still effective. I don't believe many pianists could play these etudes this slow and keep the listener interested as Bolet does. For a completely different (opposite) interpretation, try Lazar Berman. His playing is much more "diabolical Liszt" if that's how you prefer your Liszt to be played.
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