Falling in Love with Liszt

Liszt's 200th birthday is honoured in style.

Composer: Liszt 
Repertoire: Solo piano works including Chasse-Neige, La Campanella, Vallée d’Obermann, Les Jeux d’Eau de la Villa d’Este

Artist: Nikolai Lugansky 
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Instrumental

Label: Ambroisie AM205

The Music: Lugansky offers a well-contrasted selection of some of Liszt’s finest solo works which also, whether intentional or not, illustrates the many-sided facets of Liszt’s genius. 

The Performance: Once you have settled to Lugansky’s sometimes glassy tone, it is hard not to be seduced by the playing of a natural Lisztian, as alive to textual detail as conveying a work’s drama and poetry. Look no further than his bravura handling of Vallée d’Oberman, surely one of the composer’s most inspired masterpieces, rising to ecstatic heights in the final pages. Compare that with the limpid touch Lugansky brings to the impressionistic Fountains at the Villa d’Este, the graceful phrasing in the last of the three Petrarch Sonnets and the quick-silver response to Feux Follets, one of the trickiest works in the repertoire and tossed off with aplomb.

The Verdict: One columnist in a recent issue of a rival classical music magazine complained that he couldn’t see why there has been such a fuss about Liszt’s 200th birthday. He should hear this and have a re-think.