For his third album on EMI, piano sensation Niu Niu presents a program of dazzling transcriptions by Franz Liszt, which are appropriate not only for his prodigious talents but also for this stage of his career. Following the Japanese releases of CDs of Mozart and Chopin, this Liszt album is a proper introduction to a wider international audience and an impressive demonstration of Niu Niu's skills, as well an important calling card to advance his reputation. To be sure, the technical aspects of these transcriptions would be daunting to virtually all 15-year-old pianists, and many older artists, too, though Niu Niu makes them seem effortless and fun, with only a few passages revealing the immensity of the challenges they pose. But beyond the brilliance of his playing, there is a subtle artistry that is apparent, notably in his performances of the transcriptions of Schubert's Lieder, as well as in the lyricism of Wagner's "Liebestod" and Liszt's Liebesträume No. 3, that show that Niu Niu is much more than a flash in the pan. While anyone can perceive the energy and dexterity he brings to Saint-Saëns' Danse macabre, the Grandes Études de Paganini, or the closing Grand Galop chromatique, listen closely to his handling of quieter passages, which reveal the musicality and control that all true virtuosos need, and which he clearly possesses.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Grandes Études de Paganini, S. 141|