Russell Sherman / Earl Wild

Liszt: Masterpieces for Solo Piano, Vol. 2

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For anyone interested in exploring the piano's most virtuosic repertoire, this budget double-disc of Franz Liszt's solo works is a good starter set. Liszt is well-served by two celebrated authorities, Russell Sherman and Earl Wild, who connect to the music's intense emotions and brilliantly execute the most daunting passagework. On the first disc, Sherman brings eloquence to the Transcendental Etudes, and his characteristic wit and bravado are most apparent in "Feux Follets" and the "Eroica" etude. On the whole, these miniature tone poems are dreamy and atmospheric, and quite at odds with the furious pieces on the second disc. Here is Liszt in all his unrepentant garishness, and Wild spares nothing in his flamboyant playing. Wild attacks the "Réminiscences de Robert le diable with vigor," delivers puckish interpretations of Gnomenreigen and the Mephisto-Polka, and offers dramatic renditions of the Réminiscences de Don Juan and the Waltzes from Gounod's Faust. Especially worth hearing is Wild's dazzling performance of the Mephisto Waltz, clearly a favorite encore piece and the high point of this set. Sherman's recording was previously available only on vinyl, and Wild's has been issued by Vanguard in both LP and CD formats. While the recorded sound is less than ideal, the ADD remastering is adequate for most stereo systems.

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