Liszt: Transcriptions from Opera / Chen
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Naxos’ survey of Liszt’s piano music seems to have been progressing in dribs and drabs, with little fanfare since its launch more than 20 years ago. However, if you’re a fan of Liszt and the highest order of transcendental virtuosity, grab Volume 41 right away. I first became aware of Han Chen, winner of the 2013 China International Piano Competition, as a commanding new music pianist, one of many in New York. He’s also a composer. Since most new music pianists don’t bother with Liszt (and when they do, it’s usually awful), I was prepared for the worst. Instead, I heard the best!
It isn’t just Chen’s assured, elegant and totally effortless technique that blows me away, it’s also his idiomatic flair, his use of color and touch to convey character, plus a gift for textural variety and differentiation that one associates with golden age legends. Listen to the Bellini Sonnambula Fantasy’s carefully sculpted climaxes and how the final pages’ buckets of chords and runs sing out with no strain, struggle or imbalance whatsoever. The Polonaise from I Puritani swaggers with joyful scintillation, while the convoluted thematic juggling in the Freischütz Fantasy conveys a sense of lightness and play that Leslie Howard’s premier recording keeps under wraps. The engineering replicates how a well-regulated concert grand sounds in a small hall with a luminous yet not overly resonant acoustic. Need I say more? - ClassicsToday
Catalog Number: 8573415
Composer: Franz Liszt
Performer: Han Chen