Boris Giltburg

Liszt: Études d'exécution transcendante; La leggierezza; Rigoletto Paraphrase

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Russian pianist Boris Giltburg gravitates toward the pure virtuoso tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries. As such, he's the subject of comparisons with Daniil Trifonov, but it's always better to take performances on their own terms. Giltburg does not have the poetic soul of Trifonov, but he is oriented toward setting up technical problems and then solving them in what can be a very exciting way. Sample the poetic and highly varied Transcendental Etude No. 4, "Mazeppa," which in Giltburg's hands is a rocking roller-coaster ride. Another virtue is the opening of Paraphrase de concert sur Rigoletto, S434, not often heard but typical of the music Liszt would have performed at the height of his fame; here too Giltburg has considerable élan. The final La leggierezza, from the Trois Etudes de Concert, S144, does not have quite the poetic impact one would hope for. The sound is unusually good on this Naxos release; engineers, working at the Wyastone Estate Concert Hall, are up close to Giltburg without going over the top. A generally worthy and enjoyable Liszt release.

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