Liszt - George-Emmanual Lazaridis -


Yet another quite marvellous account of the Liszt sonata to grace SACD.

This is a very different style of playing to Leschenko (Polina Leschenko - Liszt Recital) and is much more akin to that offered in Schumann, Liszt - Pedro Burmester or Liszt: Piano Works - Markus Groh. The style is thoroughly musical in conception and this takes precedence over any sense of display in the sonata that some resort to if they lack the intellectual capacity to see the piece as a convincing whole. This is allied to a sense of musical drama that is more in the mainstream than Leschenko and, as a result, is wholly recommendable to all listeners. This is not to say that the playing is remotely middle-of-the-road; indeed I'd be tempted to take my chances crossing a motorway to hear playing of this quality! Fortunately for such a taxing work, at no time does George-Emmanuel Lazaridis sound even remotely stretched by the many pianistic demands placed on him and instead one is taken up with the passion and drama of the piece.

Whilst this "head ruling in coalition with the heart" approach works tremendously well in the sonata, not everyone will feel the same in the "Grand Etudes de Paganini" that follow - we needn't worry though because Lazaridis is sensitive to the different requirements of this more outwardly virtuostic music. All the notes are in place, one must look to Marc-André Hamelin for a similarly well played account, and there is a rigour to the individual pieces and overall conception that is very satisfying to the head. One doesn't have to question whether the heart will beat as excitedly as it might from such extrovert display pieces as "La Campanella". These are very musically satisfying and exciting accounts to which I will return frequently.

The sound is beautiful, with a wonderfully deep and sonorous recording from the wonderful The Maltings in Snape. The piano is in first-class condition with a stunning clarity in the upper registers without ever being overly-bright. In multi-channel, the effect is very convincing, with one feeling that we have been given the best seats in the house (and The Maltings is a very good house for chamber music).

This must be first choice amongst the available SACD accounts of the Liszt sonata and I suspect it will take someone very special to supplant this wonderful playing.

08 September 2007