|Review by Jan Hanford:|
Franz Liszt's enthusiasm for Bach led him to transcribe several of the Baroque master's organ works for piano. His purpose was "an attempt at musical education, destined to fight the public taste for tinsel and mediocrity." As a result, many listeners in the 19th century had the opportunity to hear composers they wouldn't have otherwise. And the same sensibility applies today.
The transcription does bear the fingerprints of Liszt, with his signature of dazzling technique and pounding octaves. In this case, it is a very rewarding and sometimes even exciting presentation of Bach, the sound of the grandiose organ being replaced by dramatic flourishes of piano. It gives a new perspective to this beautiful Bach piece and I couldn't be more delighted.
Unfortunately, there is only one Bach piece on this disc; I craved more. The remainder of the disc is Liszt transcriptions of Franz Schubert songs. This was an exciting discovery for me. I am not a fan of Romantic period songs so I would not normally listen to these pieces (if, indeed, I ever have). But played entirely on piano they are given a new context and I found myself captivated. It was a revelation for me, hearing the beauty in these pieces. Vladimir's performance is incredible. He gives so much to these pieces, I was very moved by his performance. I highly recommend this recording; it presents masterful transcriptions, an incredible performance and flawless recording technology.
ProPiano Records is also an exciting discovery. They take chances, and they succeed. Recording virtually unknown pianists and unusual repertoire, confined entirely to piano literature (with occassional string accompaniment), I feel this company is an important voice in a crowded industry. Too many record companies present the same repertoire over and over, etc. ProPiano is committed to world-class musicians and new repertoire and deserves to be supported and encouraged.
Also see the Pro Piano Records web site: http://www.propiano.com/.