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The Gold Standard?,
This review is from: Etudes D'Execution Transcendante (Audio CD)It's no surprise that this is, as far as I know, the third time this 1996 set of the Liszt Transcendental Études played by supervirtuoso Boris Berezovsky has been issued; it is, for me, the gold standard recording of this inhumanly difficult music. The only thing that comes close is the set of performances by Jorge Bolet Liszt: Trancendental Studies S.139, whose approach is perhaps more poetic but equally startlingly virtuosic. This new reissue is on the Apex label and in sterling sound and budget price. The original issue was on Teldec Franz Liszt: Etudes D'Exécution Transcendante and then it was reissued in 2002 on Warner Classics Liszt: Transcendental Studies. Both are still available but at a bigger price. It might be instructive, however, to click on these two links to read others' reviews.
Some highlights: 'Mazeppa' is titanic, and frankly this performance is one of the few I've heard that makes this dramatic étude coherent. You have to hear Berezovsky's 'Feux follets' to believe it; it is almost unbearably exciting. It is fully the equal of Sviatoslav Richter's legendary live 1958 performance and in much better sound, of course. The opening Preludio's staccato e sforzando cascades of notes are as if shot from a machine gun. The leggierissimo right hand figurations in 'Ricordanza' are amazing but subdued in the service of the expansive, romantic melody. I was more than a little amused that 'Chasse-neige' (literally 'Snowplow') reminded me not at all of our ubiquitous snowplows here in Vermont, but then remembered that of course Liszt was describing, rather, a forceful snowstorm in unmechanized 19th-century Europe. The impossibly fast tremolos, left-hand chromatic flurries and wide skips do indeed limn snow quickly covering the landscape. 'Wilde Jagd' ('Wild Hunt') is exciting beyond words.
Yes, this is a magnificent recording of some of the most difficult and yet moving piano music in the repertoire. And at this price worth every penny and more.