François-René Duchâble

Liszt: Piano Works

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If you want to make a splash as a virtuoso pianist, play Liszt. That's what young French pianist François-René Duchable did in this 1996 recital: he programmed the most intensely virtuosic, overtly emotional, and deliberately effusive works of Liszt and played end to end. From the opening Funérailles through the Méphisto Waltz and the Liebestraum No. 3 to the closing Un sospiro and La campanella, Duchable leaves none of the Hungarian Romantic greatest hits unplayed. And, boy, Duchable sure can play! His technique is incredibly athletic, his tone is amazingly luxurious, his control of phrasing, dynamics, and tempo is absolutely complete. What's more, Duchable has heart. The endless longing of Liebestraum, the ineffable beauty of Jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este, the palpable sensuality of Un sospiro: all the emotional power of Liszt's Romantic music is manifest in Duchable's performance. If one could fault these performances, it might be for being too French and not enough Hungarian, that is, Duchable's lithe and luminous Liszt could seem too much the pianistic godfather of Debussy and Ravel rather than the compositional father Bartók. But for listeners who prefer their Liszt with a French accent and are looking for a single-disc collection of his best-known piano works in clean, direct digital sound, Duchable's recital will be just the thing.

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