Jeneba Kanneh-Mason stuns with blistering take on Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2

16 May 2024, 12:56

Jeneba Kanneh-Mason plays blistering Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 | Classic FM

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A masterpiece of 19th-century piano repertoire, forever linked with the joy of Tom and Jerry…

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At Classic FM’s Rising Stars, a 19-year-old star pianist played an impressively brisk, compelling rendition of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2.

That pianist was Jeneba Kanneh-Mason – a rising piano star, now 21 years old, who recently signed to Sony Classical.

From speed and agility to dynamic range, the Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 is famous for the virtuosic demands it makes on its performer. Published in 1851, it is the second and most famous of a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by the great Hungarian composer and piano virtuoso, Franz Liszt.

It is also a piece of music indelibly linked with the great nostalgia of Tom and Jerry and The Cat Concerto, a classic short cartoon that sees Tom cat attempt to continue playing the blistering solo while mouse Jerry plays around cheekily inside the piano.

Read more: Virtuoso pianist perfectly syncs her playing with Tom and Jerry Cat Concerto scene

Jeneba Kanneh-Mason signed to Sony Classical for her first recital album, releasing in 2025
Jeneba Kanneh-Mason signed to Sony Classical for her first recital album, releasing in 2025. Picture: © Johanna Berghorn/Sony Classical

The rhapsody is played with stunning musicality and delicacy by a rising star pianist of today, who will record her first recital album this year for release in 2025.

“I am so happy and honoured to join the prestigious roster of artists at Sony Classical,” Jeneba said in April.

“I can’t remember a time when classical music wasn’t an integral part of my life, and I am a huge advocate for its positive influences and ability to really connect with such a wide range of people.”

Jeneba appeared in 2022 at Classic FM’s Rising Stars with Julian Lloyd Webber among other star classical performers including Plinio Fernandes, Laura van der Heijden, Chelsea Guo, Armand Djikoloum and Iyad Sughayer.

Rising Stars, which is broadcast on Sky Arts, has been running since 2021. In 2023, another incredible line-up of star classical musicians – trumpeter Matilda Lloyd, violinist Ellinor D’Melon, guitarist Raphaël Feuillâtre, cellist Sterling Elliot and pianist Ariel Lanyi – performed alongside the 12 Ensemble at LSO St Luke’s.