Robert Silverman

Liszt, Rachmaninov: Études

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Liszt, Rachmaninov: Études Review

by Mike D. Brownell

The programming for this Orion Master Recordings album, entitled Etudes: Liszt and Rachmaninoff, is seemingly rather random. For starters, only four of the pieces chosen are actually etudes at all. The program begins with two Liszt works based on two of Bach's sacred choral works before proceeding to two of the well-known Transcendental Etudes. The Liszt portion of the album concludes with a Faustian contribution entitled only Scherzo and March. Two Rachmaninoff etudes close out the disc, which clocks in at under 60 minutes total. As for the performances, pianist Robert Silverman delivers technically dazzling displays of pyrotechnics, as would be hoped for in a recording of etudes. But while there are many pianists out there who can "wow" listeners with technically flashy and powerful playing, few can equally deliver on the stillness and introspection that is also called for in Liszt with the same dexterity as Silverman. His command of dynamics and pacing is is greatest ally these performances. Recorded sound quality is not. The five Liszt tracks are very bright and sterile, with almost no presence from the lower end of the instrument. Rachmaninoff's two etudes, which were apparently recorded under completely different circumstances, are warmer and deeper, but lack clarity in busy sections.

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