Vladimir Feltsman

Liszt: Bénédiction de Dieu

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This 2013 Nimbus release by Vladimir Feltsman is a collection of favorite piano pieces by Franz Liszt, showing the reflective side of the composer, instead of the purely virtuosic. That is not to say that these selections aren't dazzling in their own way, since few of Liszt's compositions are wholly free of technical wizardry, but the dominant tones of the album are thoughtful and serious. Feltsman's program opens with the famous Liebesträum No. 3 in A flat major, one of Liszt's greatest hits, a quiet, sentimental miniature that is both lyrical and passionately Romantic. This "dream of love" sets the tone for the other short pieces, which include the delicate Berceuse in F sharp major, along with three late compositions: Elegia, the second version of La lugubre gondola, and the nocturne En rêve, which balance and contrast the two large meditative pieces at the heart of the album, the Six Consolations, and the title work, Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses. Only the Ballade No. 2 in B minor is characteristically flashy and tumultuous, and Feltsman was wise to include at least one showstopper in what is otherwise a subtle and fairly introspective recital. The recording is clear and resonant, and because the microphone isn't especially close, the acoustics are allowed to enhance the sound.

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