A Powerhouse Performance Of Liszt

Claire-Marie Le Guay flexes (sometimes overly) her Liszt credentials with three of his greatest masterpieces for solo piano

Composer: Liszt
Repertoire: Sonata in B minor; Ballade no.2;
‘après une lecture de Dante’ from Années de pèlerinage

Artists: Claire-Marie Le Guay (pf)
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Instrumental
Label: Accord 4764244

The Music: Claire-Marie Le Guay established her Liszt credentials with her debut recording of the 12 Transcendental Etudes in 2004. Here she plays three of his greatest masterpieces for solo piano with the mighty B minor Sonata as the centrepiece.

The Performance: Le Guay sets out her stall in the first bars of the Dante Sonata, as arresting an opening as you’ll ever hear. Throughout the work she relishes Liszt’s theatrical gestures and makes much of the dramatic musical narrative. It’s an approach that works well here and in the Ballade No.2. What does not come off as well is the Sonata. Le Guay’s tone can be distractingly harsh. She distorts note values and, with some over-indulgent tempos clocks in at an unusually slow 34’00”.

The Verdict: Some quirky musical decisions in the Sonata coupled with many passages in which Le Guay ‘goes through the tone’ detract from the powerful and often compelling performances of all three works, usefully gathered together on a single disc.

Want More? Le Guay’s earlier Liszt discs are of the 12 Transcendental Studies recorded when she was 19 (Accord 461 8202) and the two Concertos (Accord 472 7282).