Julian Gorus

Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage

(CD - Haenssler #98627)

Review by

The 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt's birth has yielded an ample crop of releases and reissues in 2011, and prominent among them are several recordings of the increasingly popular Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), a musical reflection on the young composer's eye-opening travels through Switzerland and Italy in the 1830s. This triple-disc package from Hänssler Classic presents Julian Gorus' polished performance of the complete Années, which Liszt composed in three volumes, corresponding to the years and countries he explored in the company of Countess Marie d'Agoult. Translating his journeys, both physical and spiritual, into a musical idiom, Liszt resorted to almost every technical device and elaborate figuration available to him, so the Années is a compendium of pianistic pyrotechnics that Gorus handles with aplomb. Yet the overriding mood of the Années is one of quietude and poetic lyricism, and Gorus is a smooth interpreter of the many sections of limpid arpeggios, shimmering tremolos,and gently rocking melodies. The reproduction is clear and reasonably close to the piano, but there is sufficient space for it to resonate in Leipzig's Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk studio space. The live acoustic tends to give loud runs and bass octaves a big, booming quality, though it is ideal for the softer, dreamier pieces.

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