Emotion and Magic

Arcadi Volodos proves that there was more to Liszt than his showman persona.

Composer: Liszt
Repertoire: Piano Works
Artists: Arcadi Volodos (piano)
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Instrumental
Label: Sony 88697 06500-2

In a letter Liszt once confessed that, ‘My piano is the repository of all that stirred my nature in the impassioned days of my youth. I confided to it all my desires, my dreams, my sorrows. Its strings vibrated to my emotions, and its keys obeyed my every caprice.’ The overriding image is of women variously crying out in ecstasy or fainting at his feet, as Liszt launches into one of his mesmerising pianistic tirades. Yet there is another side to his creative personality as is demonstrated by this bewitching recital.
Volodos’s fingers are certainly given plenty to do - witness his gravity-defying transcription of the 13th Hungarian Rhapsody and the overwhelming octave-saturated sonorities he summons up during the closing section of Vallée d’Obermann.

Yet the impression is of Liszt the ‘serious artist’. The chilling atmosphere Volodos distils for the subdued opening section of La lugubre gondola is unforgettable, with each note imbued with its own unique emotional identity. Rarely has a piano sounded so meltingly luminous as in En Rêve, while Saint Francis of Assisi is brought to life so intoxicatingly it feels as though one could reach out and touch him. A defining moment in recorded pianism.